Business Development Manager is another fancy job title corporations use to attract talented job seekers. Sales Manager would be a more appropriate title for the position, but developing business sounds better than managing sales. Or doesn’t it?

Interviewers will inquire about your sales strategies, market research skills, ability to connect with VITOs (very important top officers), and especially about your attitude to various tricky situations that can happen to every BDM.

Unless you apply for this job with a company involved in a highly technical field, you do not need higher education, and you won’t answer any technical questions in the interview.

Nonetheless, you should do some research about your future employer, and especially the products they sell on B2B market. This knowledge will help you with your interview answers. Okay, let’s look at the questions!

 

Why do you want to work as a business development manager?

You will earn big, and you will get recognized with your new job title. But you shouldn’t refer to such things in your answer. Try to focus on the value you can bring (and want to bring) to their company.

For example your excellent interpersonal skills, your ability to uncover hidden business opportunities, your successful experience in sales, personal connections you have in the industry (which will help you to close some deals), etc.

You can also say that you were born a salesman, and can’t imagine working in any other field.

Older recruiter asks some questions and job applicant answers. They sit in a comfy modern office

How do you imagine a typical day in work?

The key is to say that you plan to take the initiative. BDMs who spend their day sitting in a comfy chair, hoping for some good news from the sales force, or an accidental phone call from a prospective client, won’t bring much business to the company.

For example, you can say that you plan to devote 20% of your time to market research and identifying new opportunities, 40% to making calls and having meetings, trying to close new deals, 20% to communication with existing clients, and the rest to administrative and other tasks, necessary in this position.

Obviously the ideal numbers differ from one company to another, but at least you show them that you have an idea what it takes to do this job, and have courage to take action.

 

Try to sell me this object (a pen, notebook, your mobile phone, anything).

This is perhaps the most common question in sales interviews. And it makes sense to use it, since such a simple role play often reveals the truth about your sales skills.

First and foremost, you should accept the role play. I saw candidates who refused, or said that they needed extra time to prepare for the exercise. These people were never hired.

Second thing to remember is to ask questions. You show them the pen (for example), and start asking: What do they expect from a perfect pen? Which color do they like? Have they even seen a pen as beautiful as this one? 

Try to lead discussion with them. Explain briefly the benefits the product will bring to their life, and let them convince themselves that they need it. Keep an eye contact, and do not get discouraged by their objections (which they may bring on purpose).

Remember: Interviewers do not expect to hear a flawless sales pitch from you. It’s enough if you show courage, and basic understanding for leading sales talk and closing deals…

 

Describe how you (would) find new business opportunities.

You can mention different strategies in your answer, and in an ideal case pick the one that could be effective in their field of business. Networking and fairs are a great way to interact with new potential business clients. But you can also work with Google and LinkedIn search, finding companies who may need your services, doing cold calls and trying your luck.

Another strategy consists in spying on your top competitors, identifying their existing clients and trying to convince them to start doing business with your company instead.

If you have some experience in the field, you can even say that you plan to benefit from your existing connections (and their connections), identifying new opportunities in your professional network.

Job seeker uses his hands to emphasize his words

How do you feel about expanding to new markets, and going on business trips to foreign countries?

If they ask the question, they likely plan to send you to business trips (or at least they see some potential in the foreign markets, and want you to explore this opportunity).

You should show courage, say that you do not have problems dealing with people from other cultures, and plan to explore all potential opportunities for bringing in new business.

 

Are you familiar with our products? What do you think about them?

This is one of the questions where research will help you.

Unless you see the value of the product, for the final customer, you won’t be good in selling it. Therefore you should try to understand this value, and find some good things about the product. Compare it to the products of competitors, and try to find the unique selling point.

Obviously you can see some areas for improvement, but it won’t be your job to improve the product (product managers will respond for it). Therefor you should not mention these things in your answer. Praise the products, and point out the competitive advantage. Show them that you did your homework, and are very serious about your job application.

 

Do you like to set goals in your job?

Most likely they will set the goals for you–and sometimes the goals will be hard to reach, close to impossible. Nevertheless, you should say that you like goals, since they help you with motivation, and also with planning (knowing the sales target for a year helps you to plan the number of deals you should close each quarter or month, depending on the seasonality of the business).

You can even go ahead and talk about sales goals you had in your past jobs, and how you tried to increase the overall sales volume each year.

Three women are talking an a nice office, a scene from an interview

What factors do you consider when evaluating the deal?

There are many things you can, and perhaps even should consider.

Is the deal a one-time flick, or a long term partnership? Will it barren your ways to other deals (competitors), or oppositely, will it open new leads? What is the overall size of the deal? Considering your present liabilities, will you be able to fulfill the contract? Does the deal align with your overall sales strategy? What is your relationships with the particular client?

Demonstrate that you consider each deal carefully, but will always at least consider it, and look for ways of making it more profitable for the company.

 

Do you think it is important to keep in touch with existing customers? What is your strategy in this?

It’s not only important–it is absolutely essential. Statistics show us that it is ten times tougher (and more expensive) to get new client than to get new business from an existing client. What is more, everything relates to everything, VITOs know one another, and a good connection in one company can bring you business from another one.

Say that you will do your very best to retain the customers. You can even say that you plan to personally visit the most important customers (on a monthly or yearly basis), to ensure everything is right, to strengthen the connection, and, of course, to try to get new business with them, or at least a referral.

 

Do you have any experience with cold calls? Do you consider this sales strategy effective?

If cold calls weren’t effective, thousands of call centers all around the globe would not exist, and nobody would do them.

Sure enough, most people are tired from receiving just too many sales/marketing calls each week. But cold calls form an important part of an overall business development strategy, and each good manager will at least consider making them. It is very rare to close a big deal on a phone, but a first phone call can lead to another call which can lead to a meeting, and so on…

Say that you understand the importance of cold calls, and plan to include them in your strategy. You can even narrate an example from your last job, when you turned a call to business.

Salesman is nervous while making a cold call

Describe a time you had to negotiate the price of a sale.

More important than the situation you narrate is your actual thought process.

Did you consider the value of the business the client could bring in in the years to come? Did you consider how lowering the price would impact your negotiations with other clients, who might find out about the deal? Did you give up easily, or did you stand your ground, trying your very best to negotiate the best possible deal for your employer?

Interviewers will be keen to see the way you think while negotiating the price.

If this is your fist job application, you can talk about any negotiations you did, for example in a retail store.

 

How do you feel about selling a product you do not believe in? Do you think you can manage to do it?

This is question of attitude. My advice: Say that you would never agree to sell a product you did not believe in. It’s just against the business ethics–your ethics. Though thousands of stock brokers and other “account managers” do it day after day, with a smile on their face, you should be better.

Now, some shady company, or a stock brokerage firm, may not hire you after hearing this answer. But you do not want to work for a shady business, selling crappy products, or complete illusion. Do you?

 

Some other questions they may ask you in a Business Development Manager interview

  • Describe the most difficult client you have encountered.
  • Describe the best deal you’ve ever closed.
  • How do you feel about training new sales force?
  • Have you ever lost an opportunity to do business with an important client? Why did it happen?
  • Describe a time when you struggled to communicate something to your customer. How did you manage to get your message over?
  • Describe the biggest failure of your professional career.
  • Describe a time when you struggled to build a relationship with someone important. How did you eventually overcome that?
  • Describe a situation when you went above and beyond with your service (for the customer, for the colleague)
  • Describe a situation when you reached a goal and tell us how you achieved it.
  • Why should we hire you, and not one of the other candidates for the job?

 

Final thoughts and next steps

Business Development Manager is an attractive job title, and you will always compete with other people for the position. Prepare for a tough interview in front of a small panel, get ready for many behavioral and situational questions.

Your success is not a question of luck, however. Prepare for the questions from this article, and research carefully about your prospective employer, and their final products. Practice a selling role play with a friend, or with an interview coach.

Once you do all of this, you can say to yourself that you tried your very best to succeed. And in many cases it will be enough, and you will be the one who gets the job. I wish you good luck!

 

May also interest you:

  • Sales interview questions – To recruit a good salesman is an art, not a science. And it is always a risk. Job seekers find themselves in a better positions than the employers do… Learn what matters in this atypical interview.
  • Leadership interview questions – An essential skill for every good manager, your leadership skills will be tested in an interview for virtually any managerial job. Are you ready to demonstrate them in an interview?

Matthew Chulaw

Matthew has been working in international recruitment since 2008. He helps job seekers from all walks of life to pursue their career goals, and to prepare for their interviews. He is the founder of InterviewPenguin.com website.
Matthew Chulaw

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