Q: What is your approach to business development?
Business Development is the activity of pursuing strategic opportunities for a particular business or organisation, for example by cultivating partnerships or other commercial relationships, or identifying new markets for its products or services. (Source).
When our candidates ask us for advice, we always advise them to convey themselves honestly and truthfully. Here are some guidelines that will help you articulate yourself better – but they should always relate to you personally.
Prior to the interview, you should have a think about how you might approach business development and relate it back to the job description where possible. Here, a few pointers that act as guidance to help you answer the question: what is your approach to business development?
“Being a good listener.” – explain that if you are planning a sales call, you will make a conscious effort to actively listen rather than talking “at” the prospective the entire time, so that you will gain an understanding of what the customer needs to then provide a solution to their pain points or challenges through the service or product you are offering. Only then can you truly provide something legitimately valuable to them.
“Building on your experience, data and insights but looking at what’s been and worked well so far.” – show the hiring manager that you are keen to understand what has worked well for the business before, by gaining knowledge of previous productive market segments, you can focus on what has previously delivered the company success, tested and proven approaches, to build on those.
“Preparing for what’s ahead.” – explain that you will do what it takes to remain ahead of the game within your industry. By keeping on top of your target market, tracking customer personas and simply reading the latest and most relevant news to keep track of changes within your industry, so you know how your service or product can provide solutions.
“Using marketing and social media to make connections.” – we previously wrote a piece on how to professionally present yourself on social media, which may help with expanding upon this question. Letting the hiring manager know that you understand the role that social media plays within business development will show them that you understand the role of the modern sales rep, and that reputation is often widely recognised via social media.
“Getting involved in regular BD sessions to keep a constant buzz.” Explain that you will proactively involve yourself in (or event initiate) any business development sessions if part of a sales team, so that everyone can get excited about talking with and gaining new prospects. Whether it’s approaching cold calls in a new way, getting scripts together or putting a campaign together with a marketing team.
Remember, the interview is only the first stage, and if you are offered the position, it’s crucial that you are able to prove that you will live up to your promises and enthusiasm, so answering authentically really is important.