What is a business development professional and what do they do?

Business development refers to sales and marketing activity focused on the ideas, initiatives and actions that will generate new revenue for an organisation. A business development professional has three primary responsibilities:

  • to identify new business opportunities
  • to pitch the products and services of their organisation
  • to maintain strong relationships with existing customers.

In addition, business development professionals generate new revenue by identifying new markets, building new partnerships and finding new ways to reach existing markets. They work so closely with client organisations that they also play an important role in helping to determine the market fit of new products and services that are being developed.

Business development is inherently target driven and typically social, involving client contact over the phone to lunches & dinners, or attending events & conferences. However, it also requires robust organisation and administrative skills and the need to regularly provide feedback to senior management.

Key responsibilities

Responsibilities will vary, but examples include:

  • identifying new business opportunities - including new markets, growth areas, trends, customers, products and service
  • researching the needs of other companies and identifying who makes purchasing decisions
  • contacting potential clients via email or phone to establish rapport and set up meetings
  • understanding the needs of new and existing clients and be able to respond effectively
  • using digital and data technology to create interest from and engage with clients
  • setting aims and objectives to develop and improve the business
  • planning and overseeing new marketing initiatives
  • attending conferences, meetings and industry events
  • preparing PowerPoint presentations and sales displays
  • contacting clients to inform them about new developments in the company‚Äôs products
  • developing quotes, proposals and contracts
  • negotiating and renegotiating by phone, email, and in person
  • providing management with feedback.

Why are they important?

Business development strategies concentrate on building long-term, sustainable revenue streams for the organisation and impacts on functions across the business (including for example sales, marketing, project management, product management & vendor management). business development professionals play an essential role in ensuring that these strategies are successful.

Skills needed for this role

Business development professionals are tenacious and target-driven, with excellent communication and interpersonal skills. They must have strong time-management and organisation abilities with good attention to detail.

Strategic Professional Options examinations linked to this role

There is no single most relevant Strategic Professional exam option for this particular role. You should therefore select those option exams which are the most appropriate for the specialist area you are interested in working in and/or the subject areas in which you have previously performed well in.

Career opportunities presented by this role

Effective business development professionals are in high demand across the public, private and charity sectors, in all types of businesses and organisations. Opportunities exist at every level from business development executives through to chief revenue officers.


High level competencies required by business development professionals include:

  • Advisory and consultancy

    A. Gathers and understands financial and non-financial information to develop complete knowledge of the client business and the environment in which it operates.

    B. Provides expert advice that will add value to the business and gain advantage.

    C. Identify and advise on business partnering to develop strategic relationships to create opportunities, improve performance and solve business problems.

    D. Prepare and present business plans and advise on the actions to implement these plans.



  • Data, digital and technology

    A. Identifies strategic options to add value, using data and technology.

    B. Analyses and evaluates data using appropriate technologies and tools.

    C. Applies technologies to visualise data clearly and effectively.

    D. Applies scepticism and ethical judgement to the use of data and data technology.



  • Stakeholder relationship management

    A. Positively develops relationships with internal and external stakeholders.

    B. Communicates and gains commitment from internal and external stakeholder.

    C. Uses emerging technologies to collaborate and communicate effectively with stakeholders.

    D. Applies professional and ethical judgement when engaging with stakeholders.

    E. Aligns organisational strategic objectives with stakeholder needs and manages expectations.

  • Strategy and innovation

    A. Applies business acumen and commercial awareness to deliver business objectives.

    B. Recommends a range of suitable strategic options from which to develop sustainable plans and objectives.

    C. Evaluates, justifies and implements suitable strategic options.

    D. Adopts and applies innovative methods to implement strategy and manages change.