11 Skills To Hone As A Business Development Leader

Business development leaders have complex jobs. There’s a lot to consider when evaluating the best steps and directions for a company, and the stress can feel daunting at times. However, the right skills can ease some of the hardships.

Forbes asked a panel of Forbes Business Development Council members , including our very own EVP of Business Development, Nathan Hasse, which skills leaders should hone in themselves and their team to succeed in the current business climate. Here’s what they had to say.


1. Curiosity

As a sales leader, you must always instill curiosity in your reps. Challenge them to always prepare for each call or meeting. Never get comfortable. Always push your sellers to keep the pipeline full. Always hunt for new business. – Casey JacoxKforce

2. A Future-Oriented Mindset

Business development leaders need to be able to analyze and associate with opportunities before trends hit the industry. They should have the experience and knowledge to adapt to fluid industry trends and develop an effective strategy early in the game. They need to have the mindset of looking past the current momentum of the industry and spotting upcoming opportunities before the competition does. – Christian ValiulisAutomatic Payroll System

3. Listening

Salespeople are trained to be loud, stand out, present their product with bells and whistles, and never take “no” for an answer. However, relationships are king. To convert a potential client into a long-term relationship, ask questions and listen to the response. Oftentimes, the client will tell you exactly what their pain points are and how to successfully sell them if you just listen. – Lauren HommeE4H Environments for Health Architecture

4. Brand-Building

Business development leaders have to become great at building a personal brand by creating content that’s useful to their audience. This is one of the most important skills to master, as it has a great return on both personal and business levels. – Mehul AgarwalC2Ci

5. Enthusiasm

In today’s business environment, you need enthusiasm and energy. This honestly sets you so far apart from your competitors. When I show others on calls that I have energy and I’m fired up about what I’m selling and talking to them about, this really comes through, and most people I talk to notice this. It’s crucial for success because it makes me memorable. – Clinton SenkowInfluencive

6. Servant Leadership

Being a leader in business development requires the ability to inspire direction and focus in your organization. Servant leadership is selfless leadership that builds the foundation for trust and loyalty. It shows your clients and employees your willingness to fight side by side by removing roadblocks that they run into every day. Provide solutions by serving instead of dictating. – Nathan HasseSimpatico

7. Following Up

We have to remember that humans are buying products and services in the digital age, so follow-up and effective communication are essential. People have forgotten that sitting in front of a computer is not the complete answer. It’s still crucial to pick up the phone or to have one-on-one meetings, which should not become a lost art. – Wayne ElseyElsey Enterprises

8. People Skills

I am a strong believer that people like doing business with people they like. The person doing the selling is just as important as the product they’re selling. It is important for business development leaders to hone their people skills in any business climate: You will always need to be good with people to attract, retain and get the most of out of top talent and to close big deals. – Adam MendlerThe Veloz Group

9. Storytelling

This falls into the realm of communication but is so much more than that. If, as a business development executive, you are unable to communicate the win-win from the perspective of the person or company that you’re approaching within the first few seconds, then nothing else matters. With the speed of business today, every touch point is key, so make it interesting, thought-provoking and purposeful. – Nitin GuptaScandit

10. Discipline 

Sales is a science — a discipline that requires a commitment to continued practice and a keen focus on staying true to the proven fundamentals of selling. Over time it’s common to see business leaders stray from these practices, especially when they’re fully removed from a revenue-generating role. It’s important for sales leaders to remind themselves to go back to basics to find consistent results. – Jen TadinGallagher

11. Team-Building

In today’s rapidly moving climate — where changes occur daily, if not hourly — it’s impossible for one exec to know it all. Business executives must be able to establish a team they trust implicitly and motivate them to work well together. Encourage an openness where all members share ideas and aren’t afraid of making mistakes. – George DonovanAllego


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