Top 5 Skills for Business Development Executives by Slava Gerasiutenko

Slava Gerasiutenko, Business Development Director
Top 5 Skills for Business Development Executives

Hello, everyone! It’s me again, Slava Gerasiutenko, Business Development Director (BDD) at Integrio Systems.

Business Development Executives (BDEs) play a crucial role in the growth and success of any organization. They are responsible for identifying new opportunities, building strategic partnerships, and driving revenue. To excel in this role, BDEs need a specific and strong skill set. In this article, we will explore the most needed skills that open the doors to growth and success.

Top Five Skills For a Successfull BDD

Cultivating a diverse skill set is crucial for a Business Development Executive, as it allows effective navigation of the multifaceted challenges inherent in the role. Drawing from my business experience, the following five skills are paramount for a business development enthusiast, and particularly for those aiming to succeed as leaders and advance to directorial roles:

  • Negotiation Skills

    Negotiation is at the heart of business development and here is the cornerstone of success. BDEs must articulate their company's value proposition and cultivate lasting relationships with clients and partners. Developing and refining negotiation skills is key to achieving mutually beneficial outcomes and securing favorable agreements. A proficient negotiator can establish lucrative partnerships, successfully close deals, and strengthen the company's market position. What do you need for that? - Listening and talking.

    To enhance speaking techniques, I constantly pump up my foreign language skills, and there are many ways for that. You could attend a good language school or join a speaking club with native speakers. Watching TV shows in a foreign language with subtitles on or reading books are also effective approaches. However, to refine both speaking and listening from a psychological perspective, immerse yourself by following industry and innovation leaders on social networks, and listening to the best business speakers. This will help you to find new ideas and hints to strengthen your negotiation proficiency.

    I would advise Steve Harrison’s speech “How to Sell Without Selling Your Soul” as a great starting point.

  • Market Research and Analysis

    Business development executives need a keen understanding of market trends and competitive landscapes. They must be able to identify potential clients and new business opportunities. Remaining informed about industry shifts and emerging trends is crucial for making well-informed decisions.

    I recommend The Economist and BBC to keep abreast of the latest events and trends in world markets on a global level. When delving into science and technology, I dedicate time to reading SSRN articles and reports. For research, my go-to platforms, Crunchbase and LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Regional resources like DOU are extremely helpful to be up to date with the environment you are competing in. I’m always curious and open to discovering new resources on the internet. Of course, you should be able to keep and process data which you gain from your research and apply it properly. A knowledgeable and data-savvy BDD can identify emerging trends, spot growth opportunities, and align business objectives with market demands. I use Excel or Google Sheets for data processing, but there are also lots of other good tools such as Power BI, Tableau, etc.

  • Strategic Thinking

    The previous skill must be complemented by the ability to think in a strategic way for a Business Development Director. The ability to gather and interpret data, conduct market analysis, and make data-driven decisions is vital for devising successful strategies. However, these strategies don’t develop on their own. BDEs should adopt a long-term perspective and align their efforts with the company's vision. They collaborate with the executive team to develop strategies that drive growth.

    Strategic thinking involves setting clear objectives, planning, and executing initiatives that align with the organization's goals. An MBA or similar programs help to significantly increase the level of strategic thinking skills - this is what I can share as a recent graduate of Mykolas Romeris University (MRU, in Lithuania. I understand that a classic university education can be tedious and expensive, so why not try short online courses from reputable business schools? Oxford Home Study Center, Alison or the University of Sydney are just a few examples, there are numerous options worldwide, and some even offer free courses. While books or articles by famous business figures like Lee Iacocca or Steve Jobs are always valuable sources, don't limit yourself to them. Philosophers, politicians, and economists can show us the way to think wider and beyond the current moment. From ancient Greek authors to Nietzsche, from Churchill's speeches to Foreign Affairs, I recommend expanding your horizons and becoming strategic thinkers.

  • Leadership

    Delving deeper, I have to admit that every meticulously crafted strategy needs implementation. No matter how big your team is, any Business Development Director is first and foremost a driver of initiative, making leadership an indispensable quality. It's crucial to inspire and motivate your team, foster a collaborative environment, and lead by example. A strong leader can unite teams behind a shared vision, maximizing their potential and driving exceptional performance. Once again, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of self-education.

    The more knowledge a BDD has, both practical and theoretical, the more self-confident he will be and the more confident he will feel, paving the way to effectively lead others. I am tremendously grateful to my Leadership guru, Prof. Ray Smith from the Wright School of Business at Dalton State College; his wise lessons played a crucial role in nurturing the leader in me. I believe that leadership is a skill that can be enhanced by studying the best leadership examples and leveraging your self-efficacy. I recommend watching TED-Talks videos and exploring Albert Bandura's works on this topic. I also highly recommend Simon Sinek whose books, videos and podcasts are invaluable and truly inspiring.

  • Adaptability

    Last but not least: even the most perfect strategy doesn’t work indefinitely. You should be prepared for a crash anytime and be agile to accept it and go through and further. However, leaving failures behind does not mean having a memory like a goldfish, no. Carry forward a suitcase filled with learned lessons, not a burden of mistakes. Visualize an egg, an apple or a tennis ball falling - which one will suffer the least when it hits the floor? What will not break or lose quality, but will be able to reach even greater heights again? That's right, it's a tennis ball. This is precisely what your model of adaptability to circumstances and your view of overcoming a crisis should be.

    The IT industry is ever-changing and the business landscape is ever-evolving. An adaptable biz-dev director navigates shifting market dynamics and seizes opportunities amidst challenges. Embracing change, adapting quickly to new circumstances, and foreseeing trends that can impact the business will bring you success. A new recession could come suddenly and many believe it is already around the corner. But at the same time, every crisis is always a chance to gain new opportunities. So, if it happens, I will surely share my experience of how we will have another crisis overcomed in one of my future articles.


Achieving excellence in business development requires a combination of skills, including effective negotiation, market analysis, strategic thinking, adaptability, and leadership. By improving their core competencies, aspiring biz-dev leaders can elevate their performance and impact within their organizations, setting the stage for a successful and rewarding career in business development. In the dynamic world of IT, mastering these key skills becomes a necessity for Business Development Executives who want to lead their companies to success.


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