Flight of the bumblebees – A guide for founders recruiting their first Business Developers
By Early Metrics Team - 08 June 2017
The chaotic and rapidly changing journey of a startup is both unavoidable and essential. At the coalface of growth, business developers define the future of a young ventures. Investing valuable time into their recruitment, training and mentorship is therefore one of a founder’s paramount tasks. How does an entrepreneur go about building a hive of stellar business developers?
Sting of Success
Buzzwords and box-ticking are rife in the corporate world but when it comes to recruiting for a young company, the process need not be so formulaic. Above all, business developers have to be able to deal with pressure, rejection, and the emotional rollercoaster that’s part of the trade. To this end, it’s key to hire profiles who are strong-willed, determined character and have concrete examples of times they have persisted in the face of adversity.
Creativity also helps when it comes to lead generation and thinking of innovative ways to reach qualified prospects. Then there’s the obvious need for solid communication skills, especially with regards to presenting your service to potential clients. Hire people who understand the cultural mindset of your target market.
As much as diversity should be embraced and new energy with fresh ideas is vital to growth, be sure that the person is also a good cultural fit in terms of what your vision is for the team. Failing to check this cultural fit can be a very expensive mistake to make. As a general rule, soft on the outside with a killer sting (but perhaps less of the black and yellow stripes) is a strong combination.
Whether you are hiring a junior business developer straight out of university or a seasoned sales professional, be sure to commit ample time to their training and development into your company’s ways. This is particularly important in the first three months. No-one is going to buy from someone who cannot answer basic questions around clients, services, pricing and the benefits of working together. Hence you must encourage your new hire to ask as many questions as possible and put aside time to discuss the details (daily for the first month, weekly thereafter).
Particularly in the case of junior hires, it is incredibly important to lead by example. Let them shadow you during networking sessions, listen in on plenty of first-calls, watch over you in numerous face-to-face meetings and hear you negotiate. This is the most efficient way to show them the ropes, build confidence and help to foster a solid relationship between you both before letting them fly on their own.
Once your new business developer has honed in on their skills, fine tuned the knowledge of what they will be selling and seen plenty of examples of best practice, it is time to allow them to perform and hoard honey for the business.
Set-up the right KPIs and incentive scheme to keep them motivated, but first and foremost, trust them to take what they have learnt and turn it into something valuable. Stepping back can be a difficult thing for some founders, as the business growth ultimately relies on sales. Yet, showing your confidence in them will be certain to reap rewards in the long-term.
As the position is inevitably an emotional rollercoaster filled with twists and turns, showing support and creating a culture where challenges can be expressed, analysed and conquered will provide a solid foundation for future recruits and for the business overall.
Beyond the skills and training, the relationship between a founder and business developer should be one of trust, and shared vision.
The best business developers will not merely just conduct a transactional relationship, they will share their passion for your product.