As a seasoned professional in B2B sales and account management, Carolyn McGregor gives an insight into her daily activity and explains what she thinks is the most crucial skill to becoming a successful business development manager.
Describe what you do on a day to day basis?
Most days begin on social media sites, checking out who has tweeted, linked, poked, blogged and advertised. Firms are getting good at this now and it’s a great way of connecting quickly with what’s going on in your geographical area and in your sector. A Business Development role not only involves knowing your own business but also the business of your customers, prospects and competitors. Each day is different but involves updating systems, having conversations and admin. As business development is about keeping the customers you have (selling more to them) as well as finding new ones.
How did you become a Business Development Manager? What attracted you to this job and what are the most challenging aspects?
Developing long term relationships is Key to the role, and knowing when to leverage them if needed. There is a Sales element too which varies depending on the product and nature of the business. The great thing about Business Development is the variety; you never know what opportunities are out there until you get talking to people. What appeals to me is communication whether that is face to face, over the phone or telepathically (take the last one with a pinch of salt but It is strange sometimes when you are thinking of a person or a great opportunity and by chance it turns up). You have to be positive because the most challenging part of the role is keeping the opportunities coming and that means you have to kiss a lot of toads to get the prince if you get my drift.
What do you feel is the key skill/attribute to your role?
The Key skill in the role is Opportunity spotting, as you will be reaching out into new markets where customers may be, this involved thinking outside the box. Some great partnerships have been made through the joining of unlikely bedfellows.
What would your advice to newcomers be?
Advice I would give to newcomers in this field is to increase your network of contacts using social media and networking. A quick way to do this is to engage with key influencers i.e. the people in your business circuit who are great communicators with big networks of connections. Remember to listen rather than talk, great practise for spotting those opportunities I keep mentioning. Most people are glad to help with introductions so don’t be scared to ask.
What are some of the key themes or hot topics you regularly come across right now?
Something of interest to me, and trending at the moment is “tackling the skills gap” in the North East. The IT sector is the fastest growing in the region and through my involvement with the Wolf Academy I have seen how motivated and skilled Apprentices can help a business grow.
I like seeing how companies use innovation to get ahead of the game. I’ve been introduced to “systems integration”, and think companies are put off by the short term costs involved, so won’t look into their legacy systems. There’s no getting away from the fact that technical advancements are vital to business success.
What would you do if you weren’t a Business Development Manager?
I love doing what I do, but if I wasn’t involved with Business Development then I would most likely be involved in horticulture as I’m a keen gardener or maybe a professional tea taster.
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