What is a typical business development career path?
A career in business development is challenging but can also be incredibly rewarding. At most companies, joining the business development team is a great choice for recent college graduates looking to get their foot in the door. Most organizations won’t hire entry-level candidates without past sales experience right into a closing role, so starting off in business development is a great way to get on the path to sales. That being said, sales isn’t the only long-term career path for business development professionals.
Business development representative
A business development representative (BDR) is an entry-level position that involves prospecting and qualifying early-stage leads as they enter the funnel. On a day-to-day basis, BDRs are cold calling and emailing prospective buyers in the hope of booking sales appointments.
Joining a company as a BDR is a great way to learn about the business quickly and gain valuable experience interacting with prospective clients. This role often carries a quota, so it’s important to take that into consideration before applying. If you’re comfortable working in a fast-paced environment that is based on metrics, BDR could be a good fit.
As a BDR, you’ll also gain valuable skills to propel you to the next phase of your career, as long as you’re ready. Moving into a closing sales role as an Account Executive or Account Manager is a common next step for most BDRs. However, this isn’t the only path. BDRs often work cross-functionally and gain skills that transfer to positions outside of sales. Common paths include marketing, customer success or even customer service.
Business development manager
A business development manager is responsible for leading a team of BDRs and owning the beginning of the sales process that involves marketing and sales-qualified leads. This position takes on additional responsibilities of managing individual contributors and overseeing all aspects of sales pipeline.
The right person for this position will have had experience as a BDR in the past to ensure that they’re familiar with the key responsibilities their team will be held accountable for. In some cases, companies will require that a BDR manager has had experience as an Account Executive because this means they have a well-rounded understanding of all aspects of the sales process. Performance metrics for this role are centered around the success of each individual team member and the team’s overall ability to meet their monthly, quarterly and annual sales targets.
If a BDR manager is meeting expectations and able to lead a successful team, there are many opportunities for growth at higher levels of leadership.