Business Development Manager Career

Explore the Biz Dev Research Career

Identifying opportunities, building viable plans, implementing time frames, interacting with staff: just a part of what a business development manager does every day. Think of the business development manager as the point person in the company for building partnerships and finding new ways to bring together successful business relationships.

Sometimes called “biz dev,” responsibilities for this position vary from organization to organization, but has a good overall description: “Business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships.”

In the field of clinical research, the business development person works directly with sponsors and Contract Research Organizations (CROs) to build long-term relationships. Lele Simmons, business develop manager for Clinical Trials of Texas, Inc., talks about her experience in the position at one of the largest clinical research sites in the U.S.

What Is a Typical Day in Business Development?  

Simmons: As a business development manager for a clinical research firm, there really isn’t a typical day, as each day is new and exciting. My work day is about 8 ½ to 9 hours, and is filled with meetings, being on the phone communicating our capabilities, experiences and success to existing and/or potential clients. Also, I spend time researching the industry to find what opportunities may be a fit for the company, as well as coordinate with doctors, staff and clients to schedule meetings. Traditionally a day’s work is never done so it is always important to focus on what was accomplished and look forward to the next day!

What Education and Training Is Required for a Business Development Manager?  

Simmons: Although I feel that business and marketing courses are very important, on-the-job training cannot be underestimated. Most of the basic principles of business development translate across industries but you must also have some understanding of the industry you are pursuing. 

My background includes a Bachelor's degree (BBA) in business with a minor in marketing.  I spent a number of years in the retail industry. After staying home with my children for five years, I re-entered the workplace as a pharmaceutical representative. I enjoyed that career for about 12 years, and then essentially started my career over in clinical research.  After a year of learning about the industry, I was promoted to the business development manager and have grown in the position for the past six years.

What Other Types of Health Companies Might Hire a Business Development Manager?

Simmons: In my opinion, the business development position is becoming a more vital role in the competitive clinical research industry.  With the increased amount of competition in the healthcare marketplace, networking is extremely important. I am finding that companies such as doctors’ offices, imaging centers, patient recruitment agencies, contract research organizations, sponsors and of course -- research sites -- are utilizing a business development person to communicate capabilities, experience, and successes. The goal is to develop partnerships and increase business opportunities.

What Skills Do Employers Seek in a Business Development Role?

Also, what are some potential interview questions a candidate may be asked in a job interview for a role in business development?

Simmons: Employers look for a self-starter and a good communicator who is organized and possesses an ability to multitask. 

Some questions a potential business development associate might answer including the following:

  • “What skills do you possess that would enable you to develop new business opportunities for our company?”
  • “In a previous position, what has been a situation you found most challenging?  How did you overcome the challenge?”
  • “In a previous position, what is a success you would like to share?”

What Do You like Most about Your Role?

Simmons: I most enjoy the fast pace, working on more than one task at a time, interacting with people, networking, learning and being a part of new opportunities and growth.

What Are the Challenges of Your Role?  

Simmons: The challenges of the position include staying ahead of competition as well as:

  • Being abreast of and staying ahead of changes in the industry.
  • Positioning the company to meet the needs of the industry.
  • Working through the variables that are out of your control.

What Is the Potential Career Track for Business Development Professionals?

Lele Simmons: Entry level positions are an excellent way to gain a full understanding of the industry. For research, recruitment specialist, executive assistant or business office may be a great place to start as long as previous career experience has been in business.

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