3 Habits of Highly Effective Business Development Reps

Posted by Josh Turner in B2B Lead Generation & Sales Insights

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Looking to expand your business development team?

A question I’m often asked is, what qualities or experiences do we find the best business development reps have in common. In today's post we'll look at the habits the best business development reps share and how to find the best people for your team.

Everyone is different so the advice that follows will never be the exact same across the board, but like anything when it comes down to finding people that are most effective at generating relationships with prospects and booking sales appointments, there are some common patterns that emerge.

And with our company having hired dozens upon dozens of team members whose primary job is to find prospects, build relationships and get those prospects to book sales appointments with either us OR our clients, we have seen it all.

A lot of people tend to hire people that are just like they are or who are just like their current top performers. That’s the safe option, and after all - the traits you have, have gotten you to where you’re at haven’t they? When it comes to expanding your team, you want to know that the people you are trusting your business growth with will do the job effectively.

And personality and experience alone aren’t the only indicators of success. There are many styles that can be effective. But what you want to find are the inherent qualities and habits that most top performers exhibit that will lead to more success.

We’ve boiled down our experience to 3 primary qualities and habits to look for when hiring a business development representative and added our two cents about how you can attempt to gauge their compatibility with these qualities in an interview. (You might even find a lot of your own qualities on this list.)

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What Do We Look For in A Good Business Development Rep?


It’s not just about job experience alone, you want to get a clue into the daily, weekly, and monthly habits of the people you are considering.

Someone with experience in the role you are looking to fill can be a good sign (or at least them displaying the curiosity and ambition to learn it - and get better) but as anyone who’s ever made a hire knows, there’s more that factors into whether someone is likely to be successful in a given role than previous job experience.

When it comes down to hiring for a person that is responsible for taking an originally cold prospect and getting them introduced to your company AND building enough of a relationship and goodwill to get them to want to speak about your solutions, you’ll want them to check as many of these boxes as possible.

Quality #1: Do they take ownership?


Whether they are reaching out to prospects via the phone, social media, email or other means, business development reps need to take ownership of their results.

Their goal is to get more prospects to a sales appointment or opportunity. They need to own it.

They have to be willing to improvise and adjust their approach based on feedback and results.

The habit we’re looking for a rep to demonstrate their commitment to this quality is how they’ve taken ownership and adjusted in the past to improve their results.

This could be in the form of them exhibiting how they’ve taken initiative to launch something of their own in the past.

That could be a side hustle or even just an example of a process improvement they developed and implemented within a team at their previous role.

Do they have an entrepreneurial mindset?

What we’re trying to find here is someone who has shown initiative as a problem solver and owns up to their results and their approach to improving them.

Quality #2: Can (or Do) they know your audience inside and out?


The habits you’d be looking for on this one is more about their research ability than it is that your candidate comes in knowing everything there is to know about your prospects.

Obviously the more experience they have with the types of people or companies that you are selling to the better, but can they demonstrate their research habits effectively?

Where do they go to stay in the know?

Who or what publications are they likely to follow to get inside the mind of your prospects to understand what they are dealing with?

Having a candidate complete a short research project and analysis of your target market isn’t a bad idea to both gauge what steps they took to get familiar with your audience (and what other solutions they’re being pitched) and how well they comprehend the information.

But behind research, you want somebody who can demonstrate how they take real-world experience and can condense that down into information they use in their communication.

Quality #3: Are they self-motivated?


This is a pretty standard quality that most companies look for in just about any role. It’s become a bit cliche perhaps.

But look... sales is a tough job.

You need to be able to see how this candidate deals with rejection.

Are they able to learn from it, brush it off and get back to the task at hand? Or not?

The typical question: ‘Tell me about a time you failed. And how did it affect you going forward?’ is a great approach to dig in on this quality.

The habit(s) we’d look for is somebody who can demonstrate their critical or analytical mind. Do they read an article on a new strategy and take it as gospel? Or are they looking for how they can improve it? Or put their spin on it?

Are they able to look critically at what’s working and what’s not and assess a new approach for tomorrow?

A project or exercise to test this might be a writing sample ie ‘Leave a short voicemail script to sell me on why I should hire you.’

Then once that’s complete ‘Great! Now let’s imagine I never call or message you back. What’s your next step? What would you change for your next outreach? And why?’

At the end of the day, the person(s) in this role need to be go-getters who won’t take no for an answer. These types of people enjoy challenges and are constantly looking for something that will challenge them to try a new approach or angle to accomplish their task.

You also want your new hire to not only understand your company and your industry but also where your company fits within the industry, including having a high familiarity with competitors and customers.

Now there are a handful of standards to look for in this type of role:

- Strong Communication Skills: Your new hire will share ideas, solutions, challenges with prospects, clients, and colleagues. Look for how they present themselves in the interview.


- Collaborative Work Ethic: While they may be an expert in their field and will have individual goals, you want your business development rep to collaborate effectively with your team.


- People Skills: They need to know how to talk to people, read people, and sell to people. Whether they’re getting people on the phone, or closing deals, they are selling your approach, your company values, and methods.


- Asks Great Questions and Listens Intently: The hidden part of “people skills” and having strong communication skills, listening to your clients and prospects is a major skill any candidate should demonstrate in their interview.


- Sets Goals and Develops Action Plans: Again, you’re looking for a go-getter and someone with an entrepreneurial spirit. They need to be able to stay motivated and form a plan to meet their goals and the company’s goals.


- Possesses a High Curiosity Quotient: This is key to being able to work with people, make plans to meet goals, and be a successful team member. Curiosity will allow them to search for understanding when talking to people and it will allow them to think creatively and strategically when making and adjusting goal-oriented plans.


- Understands the Value of Relationships: Another people skill, if they understand and know how to manage prospect and client relationships, they will automatically have more success within your company. The position is inherently relationship and service-driven and they’ll be meeting and working with lots of different people. You don’t want to worry about losing sales opportunities, so looking for someone with this quality is key.


That’s it! The 3 key qualities and habits (along with some bonus goodies) that we look for in any new business development rep.


Need help building a business development process that generates high quality sales leads each month?


Book a time to speak with our Director of Client Strategy below and find out how we can deliver ideal prospects to your team month after month.

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