How To Hire A Great Business Development Manager

How To Hire A Great Business Development Manager

In the Nigerian business environment, business development is often confused with sales. Let's clear up the confusion once and for all:

Salespeople sell, basically, but beyond selling products or services and driving revenue, a business development manager is expected to pursue strategic opportunities for business growth and build relationships.

Considering the demands of the role, the ideal business development manager should have:

1. A mixture of skills and experience in areas including sales, relationship management and strategic management.

When interviewing for this position, note that hands-on experience beats mere certification: "What have you done?" is a far more important question than "What are your qualifications?"

Suggested interview question: Why are you the best person for this role?

2. An energy for people.

Business development heavily dependent on relationships. Look out for candidates with natural enthusiasm, a warm personality and good conversational skills.

Suggested interview question: Imagine that you have been hired for this role and we are a prospective client. Convince us to do business with you.

3. Resourcefulness.

Winning over prospective clients and negotiating partnerships require quick thinking and flexibility. The ideal candidate for this role should be enterprising and adaptable, always looking for ways to work around difficulties and meet expectations no matter what it takes.

Suggested interview question: How did you win over a difficult prospect in the past?

4. An understanding of your business and the industry in which you operate.

You will save yourself a lot of stress by hiring a candidate who already knows how your business works and has a network of relevant contacts. Depending on the urgency of your business development needs, it is best that the new hire isn't faced with a learning curve on resumption.

Suggested interview question: What should we be doing to become the most relevant business in our industry?

5. Curiosity.

A business development manager cannot function effectively without market intelligence, and the best way to get market intelligence is to ask the right questions. A candidate who isn't curious about people and the way processes work is not one to consider for this role.

Suggested interview question: Would you like to know anything about our clients and operations?

6. A goal-oriented nature.

The ideal candidate should understand the importance of setting goals (and planning properly to achieve them) and creating processes that can be easily replicated. Also, because of the volume of work involved in business development, good organisational skills are important for for prioritising and meeting deadlines.

Suggested interview question: If you were hired for this role, what is the first thing you would do as our business developer?

7. A strategic outlook for assessing opportunities.

A business development manager is often presented with several opportunities to make deals and form partnerships. The ideal candidate should be able to assess such opportunities and decide which ones are strategic to the growth of your business, picking long-term value over short-term gains.

Suggested interview question: What businesses should we partner with and why?

If you have a comment, a tip or a question on business development, post it in the comments section below or send it to We'll love to hear from you.


The Nigerian Small Business Marketing Guide (Part 3)

The Nigerian Small Business Marketing Guide (Part 3)

How Your Business Can Finish The Year Strong

How Your Business Can Finish The Year Strong