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What Does a Chief Business Development Officer Do?

By Licia Morrow
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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A chief business development officer is a professional who focuses on improving profits and growth for a company. This person is usually a senior official at an organization and works with other executives to run the company and determine its direction and market share. He spends much time coordinating with others in departments throughout the company and typically is responsible for employee training and assessment.

Working with other company managers, the chief business development officer is required to help shape the overall business vision and customer base. He may be in charge of developing plans and strategies to control more segments of the marketplace and determines the direction a company will take in its attempt to do this. This executive should have a firm understanding of market and industry dynamics, and he is responsible for maintaining relationships with other powerful industry and business professionals who are directly related to his particular market. He works with a chief financial professional on budgets and costs, and he works with the president, board members, or operating officers to determine company goals and practices.

One part of the business that might require the attention of this executive is that of advertising. This officer often coordinates and sometimes leads those involved in communicating product specifications to the public. He may be the senior official in charge of instigating and approving artwork and forms of media marketing as well.

The chief business development officer also works closely with the sales department to help develop plans and strategies for acquiring new customers and business opportunities. He may be responsible for coordinating sales forecasts and keeping a close eye on customer accounts. At a smaller company, he may be personally responsible for accounts, while at a larger company, he might focus more on the supervision of the sales team.

The work environment may be fast paced or relaxed, depending upon the company size and industry. This executive typically spends much of the day meeting with others, working on goal setting, and establishing procedure. He may also be in charge of supervising and assessing employees. It's likely that he will spend much time using computers and phones to communicate with colleagues and those from outside entities as well. He may be the senior official who offers his hospitality to clients or guests, and he may be required to travel to customer locations for sales and marketing purposes.

Why Do Managers Develop a Business Plan?

Planning is an essential component of management, and it is absolutely vital to the overall functioning of an organization. Managers and supervisors are often tasked with planning important aspects of a business, from human resources and supply management to budgeting. By developing achievable goals and objectives, managers can rally employees and ensure they reach them in a timely manner.

Planning is a Function of Management

Deciding which course of action is most suitable to achieve the desired goal is one of the chief elements of the planning process for managers. Planning serves as a preparatory step, so it can assist managers and supervisors determine which actions or steps are needed to meet goals. Managerial plans should also take resources such as equipment, funds, and manpower into consideration. Since planning is a function of management, its use will be crucial to every aspect of a business’s operation.

The Importance of Establishing Objectives

Establishing goals or objects that align with the company’s values and mission is important for managers. Ideally, such objectives should provide a rationale for the business processes and policies that supervisors utilize to guide operations. The end results should be the key focus of the objectives at all times. Each objective should be specific, measurable, realistic, time-bound, and attainable, otherwise, it may be difficult for employees to meet them. Outlining objectives in such a manner can help to establish accountability and provide the planning steps with a methodology.

Objectives detailed in the planning process are not of much use if a business’s manager and employees do not believe they can achieve them. In other words, managers must help employees build confidence in regards to their individual and group goals. To do this, managers often include employees from various levels of the business in the planning process. By including employees, managers can obtain vital feedback and various opinions while helping employees become interested in company goals.

How to Hire Business Development Manager

If you want your business to be successful, you will need to hire a business development manager who understands the needs of individuals as well as the overall needs of a business or organization. Hiring the right manager is often easier said than done, but by taking the following steps, you can simplify the process and find the right fit.

  • List the needs of your business first. Every business or organization is different, so you should become aware of how yours differs from others. Consider the tasks or roles will you need your business development manager to take on. Keeping your findings in mind, you will need to list traits or qualities you want your manager to possess. You should also seek out managers who have the ability to manage aspects of your business you struggle with. For example, if you have difficulty marketing your business, choose someone with extensive marketing experience.
  • Prepare a job posting. Create a job posting that really sells your company. No one wants to work for a company that seems bland or boring. Make your company really stand out and highlight its positive aspects. Be clear and concise when describing the job and its accompanying responsibilities.
  • Choose prospective candidates. This part of the hiring process will take time. You will need to wade through resumes to find the candidates who most likely possess the skills and qualities you need.
  • Conduct interviews. The interviewing process can be daunting for both job seekers and companies. Relax and come up with relevant questions that will help you find the right hire. Be honest and upfront about what is expected of potential hires and focus on your company’s selling points.
  • Choose a candidate. If you believe a person is the right candidate, call them soon (they may have other job offers waiting for them) and offer them the position formally. Be sure to thank other applicants for applying.

How to Be Good Business Development Manager

Becoming a good business development manager doesn’t just happen overnight. It can take time, and realistically, becoming a competent manager may involve changing your perception of leadership. To be an effective leader, you must first and foremost communicate openly and honestly with your employees. When developing business plans, allow them to provide you with feedback about your ideas. Such feedback can be immensely valuable when creating plans.

Striking a Balance

You will also need to be firm but empathetic. Striking a balance between two seemingly contrasting qualities can be difficult, but it must be done. You must remain firm and professional enough to stay objective at times, but you must be empathetic enough to understand how your employees feel.

You will also want to be a great:

  • Motivator
  • Listener
  • Mediator

Always strive to improve yourself and recognize that even though you are the manager, you still have strong points and weak points like others.

How To Become Chief Business Development Officer

In order to become a chief business development officer, you need to have a number of different factors going in your favor. These include the right skills and attributes, the quality education and the ability to handle the job responsibilities.

Skills and Attributes

Since the chief business development officer’s primary duties involve the company’s ability to convert leads into customers and sell more product more efficiently, this executive’s personality attributes may closely match those of the organization’s top sales and marketing professionals. These characteristics include:

  • Solid interpersonal communication skills — Since chief business development officers have to work with a variety of employees, clients, and vendors, they must be able to communicate effectively on any level of their business. They must be equally at home in one-on-one conversations as they are speaking in front of hundreds.
  • Expert collaboration abilities — As they interact with others, chief business development officers must be able to enroll others in their vision for the future. They have to work with people both inside and outside of their organizations, building professional relationships, mastering office politics, engaging in effective conflict resolution and spreading the influence of the companies they work for.
  • Deep knowledge of their business and industry — In order to be the most effective, chief business development officers have to know their businesses at both a macro and micro level. They may be responsible for training, so they need to know how to do just about any job in the building. Without knowledge of industry staples and trends, it’s impossible for these executives to be truly effective.
  • Strong computer literacy — The day-to-day work of chief business development officers is impossible without a good level of computer skills. Whether the company uses Microsoft Office, iWorks or G Suite, this manager must be able to use productivity software efficiently. The company may also use a standard or proprietary customer relationship management (CRM) system that will need to be mastered.
  • Effective research and strategy development — There’s an old saying that to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. Without strong research skills, chief business development officers can’t know who the best in their field is. Even knowledge about who is the best isn’t sufficient without the ability to analyze why they’re the best. 
  • Sound project management skills — Whether it’s Trello, Asana or a program developed in-house, chief business development officers have to use software to efficiently manage their projects and oversee the projects of their direct reports. They must be able to set company-wide objectives and track the key performance objectives and initiatives that will allow those objectives to be met.

Education and Credentials

At a minimum, chief business development officers should hold a bachelor’s degree in business, finance, marketing or another related field. Some firms will only consider hiring an executive of this importance who holds an MBA or higher level graduate degree. Other companies may take into account experience and work history and promote from within someone who only holds a high school diploma or GED.


Chief business development officers have to handle a wide variety of job responsibilities, including people management and project management. When it comes to people management, the job is largely the same regardless of the company size; these executives have direct reports they have to hold accountable for getting work done. In larger corporations, these direct reports may include Vice-Presidents and other managers just below C-level employees. In smaller firms, chief business development officers may be closer to the front lines, even having their own accounts to manage in addition to overseeing others.

Project management is also largely the same whether the chief business development officers are at large businesses or small ones. These executives will set objectives or goals, then designate key performance indicators to make sure the objectives are being met. They may also develop initiatives designed to reach the key performance indicators.

Chief Business Development Officer Salary

According to Salary.com, the average chief business development officer salary ranges from $207,602 to $420,527, with the median falling at $305,90 — which includes a geographic differential, but does not include bonus pay. Bonuses add an average of another 17% to the top of base pay. Of course, generous benefits packages come along with the salary and bonuses. Benefits that bring another 20% of the total compensation package may include:

  • Retirement accounts including pensions and a company-matched 401(k(
  • Paid time off
  • Comprehensive health insurance, including vision and dental

Becoming a chief business development officer takes a combination of personality, skills, education and hard work. However, it’s a rewarding position, both personally and professionally.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By goldenbears — On Jun 29, 2011

In my MBA classes, we would often have class projects that required us to simulate a company. Each member of the group would take on various executive roles, like the CEO, CFO, CIO, etc. On one occasion, I was assigned to be the chief business development officer, and it was quite a learning experience.

One thing I would like to emphasize is the fact that the CBDO has to know the ins and outs of the entire company. In order to be successful, he or she must familiarize themselves with the business processes of every single department. While I have never been a CBDO in an actual company, having to develop knowledge over every area of a simulated company was hard work. I can only imagine what it must be like in an actual organization.

Perhaps someday I will take on the role of CBDO, but for now, I will just stick with marketing.

By epiphany5 — On Jun 28, 2011

I have been working in business development for quite some time. It has been the most rewarding position I have had in my career. I get to work with people from all parts of the company, and I love seeing our collaboration make positive changes.

The current chief business development officer is about to retire. Hopefully, I am promoted into his position. I definitely have the experience necessary to pick up where he left off.

The best part of working in business development is new employee training. I love being able to teach new employees about the mission and culture of our company. I have developed a new hire training program that I think makes transitioning into or fast paced, and at times complex company a whole lot easier for new hires.

I you enjoy collaboration, planning meetings, and execution, then business development might be a role you should consider if you are looking for a career change.

By Farah1 — On Jun 27, 2011

Thanks for writing this article. I had no idea what a chief business development officer was before reading this article. I am glad I discovered it.

I am thinking about going back to school to get my MBA. I have been working in sales for about 6 years now, and I want t move on to bigger and better things.

I have always loved collaboration and working other people to achieve a common goal. Unfortunately, sales can be a very individualistic kind of job that requires little to no collaboration. I realize that it is time for a career change.

Thankfully, I have learned a lot about how my company operates, and I know many of the executives by name. I am hoping that my company can sponsor my MBA and I can land a job back in my company in business development. I have spent a lot of time and effort in the sales department, and now I want to help the entire company reach its fullest potential.

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