ROI, Excel formulas, churn rate, prospecting, ad hoc, drip campaign.
I’m sorry, what?
As a Communication major, I’m comfortable with hearing “the medium is the message”, getting lost in 15-page essays, and wondering why a picture of a pipe is in fact, not a pipe (shoutout CMNS 110).
Throw me in a tech start-up in a (remote) business development position and well, I’m a touch out of my comfort zone.
A couple of days into my Co-op term I learned that I was the first non-business student to be a Business Development Representative (BDR) at this organization. And it made a lot of sense… it’s a BUSINESS role.
As per Forbes, business development is a combination of sales, hustling, and partnerships. It’s a fitting definition as business development is the initiatives that are implemented to foster growth, and essentially, profitability.
Business development falls under the sales department as it’s business development’s responsibility to find a match (potential clients) that would be interested in the product before passing them off to the sales team to further develop and close.
As a BDR, I’m responsible for researching potential prospects, identifying, qualifying, and following up with potential leads, and managing data for potential and current clients in various databases.
You’re probably wondering the same thing I did during the first month of my Co-op term...how on earth did she end up here?
The BDR position appealed to me as I have really good people skills, both over the phone and through online communication. I gained negotiation and conversation experience from my previous role in fundraising and wanted to apply myself in a different environment, using those same skills.
Adjusting to the business development and sales world as a Communication student meant learning, learning, learning.
I had to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Like in any new role, growth and development required effort and being uncomfortable. Excel spreadsheets might have freaked me out at first and all that business jargon sent me to Google for definitions. But I didn’t let it scare me. I would’ve never considered business development if I wanted to just stay comfortable and stagnate. I drew on resources like David Priemer’s YouTube channel on cerebral selling to understand ways to make working in sales, more human and connection-based.
Emphasize learning to get it right, not being right. Working in business development is not about always being right, but it’s about always trying to learn to get it right. Skills can be taught, but attitude can’t be. I sat in on many sales calls to gain industry insight, learn from experienced colleagues, and endlessly bookmark resources, anecdotes, and trainings. The willingness to get a little bit better every day is key to succeeding.
Not knowing much about an industry or role is not a closed door to an opportunity, it’s the chance for you to master YouTube tutorials, be curious, and grow. As a Communication student, you’ll already have great research, writing, and analytical skills. Why not give business development a try?
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