Where are the Business Development Recruiters?
Recruiting in Business Development has many challenges. The first one is that – unlike other disciplines in the sales and marketing world – business development does not have a clear definition. In the UK there are no official (or even not so official) bodies governing business development.
An online search for a Business Development recruitment agency will back up this uncertainty. Whilst there will be specialist B2B business development recruiters, or firms that focus solely on recruiting Business Development roles in the professional services space, there isn’t an out-and-out Business Development recruitment agency in the U.K.
Over their time as recruiters in sales and marketing, our partners have recruited for business development roles across a variety of industries. Many of these have had a distinct lean towards the sales aspect, whilst others have had essentially been marketing roles with an element of sales thrown in. Is business development the overarching discipline that sits above sales and marketing, or is it a smaller aspect of an organisation’s drive to increase visibility in the marketplace and overall profitability?
There is no answer. And as statistics from the BD School (based in the Netherlands) attest, “70% of business developers don’t receive formal training and struggle to get results in their job.” And apparently 65% of Business Development professionals did not know what their job involved when they started it. If neither the employer or the candidate knows what the job actually involves, it is not surprising Business Development recruitment can be so testing.
Is this the reason for the dearth of specialist Business Development recruitment agencies? It could be so. Yet also, in our experience it is because there simply aren’t enough exclusive Business Development roles (or BD departments) to warrant such agencies existing. As such, if you are recruiting for a Business Development role, you will be best placed if you find recruiters who have worked extensively within both sales and marketing. Which, thankfully, everyone involved with Zero Surplus has!
What are the challenges of recruiting in Business Development?
As suggested above, the main challenge of recruiting Business Development roles is the lack of a clear career path for Business Development professionals. More often than not the job titles we see on CVs from senior Business Development professionals are from a mixture of BD, sales and marketing departments.
When recruiting for senior Business Development roles the main challenge is when, for example, a Business Development Director will have to manage both sales and marketing functions. Especially in cases when the job descriptions are written by an HR department rather than the hiring manager, the actual breakdown of what they are expected to know or have actual exposure to can be unclear. In some cases a business may be happy with their Business Development Director having limited experience of actually implementing marketing campaigns – as long as they can show they have experience of managing people who have. In other cases the candidate would be expected to have extensive hands-on experience at managing marketing campaigns.
How does business development differ from other commercial roles?
** This is where some input from you would help – the first paragraph I could sort myself… but the second one – i.e. more specific – a few notes on the back of a fag packet would help. **
According to Wikipedia sales are ‘activities related to selling or the number of goods sold in a given targeted time period. The delivery of a service for a cost is also considered a sale’. And as alluded to this can be products or services to customers through a variety of different channels. Around 25 years ago sales accounted for the majority of commercial jobs in the market. The most common roles within sales are Sales Managers or Sales Executives who operate either face to face or by phone. sales roles can be found in the business to consumer (B2C) or the business to business (B2B) sector. There are increasingly more roles in the business to business to consumer (B2B2C) sector – selling into who retailers who then sell to consumers. Every sales recruiter in our team understands these differences and why they are important to the sales recruitment process.
The digital age has meant that the sales process and in result the sales recruitment process more complex. One of the outcomes of this has been the creation of more varied & defined sales roles within the industry. These include Inside Sales, Customer Success and many roles which measure and operate more strategically. The Institute of Sales Professionals published a comprehensive paper on how both the digital age and Covid have affected the sales industry. It’s key findings were:
- Along with solid sales and digital skills, autonomy, resilience, and agility are important characteristics of a successful salesperson in the digital age.
- Money is not the only motivator for salespeople anymore. Having a set of good organisational values (missions and purposes) and good personal development programmes are important in attracting good salespeople
- Online social events, training, and flexible work arrangements are important motivators for salespeople working remotely.
The full report can be found here.
However, many sectors are still looking to recruit salespeople with a strong background in a traditional type of sales. These include Sales Assistants for retail or the construction trade, or Media Sales.
Core sales roles tend to be more all-encompassing and usually have the responsibility of the whole sales process, from cradle to grave. These roles tend to be required in smaller businesses or regional divisions of larger companies selling less complex products with short sales cycles. Such roles generally enable one person to own the process from initial contact to closing the deal. As a product gets more expensive or more complex, the sales process itself can become split and defined into more separate areas with responsibilities divided between a larger sales team.
Our key business development recruitment regions
Recently recruited business development roles
Business Development Executive
Business Development Manager
I found it easy to build a good working relationship with Joby from day one. He gives very open and honest assessment on roles we have given to him and his ability to source sales staff as well as feedback on the market place is second to none.
I’ve used Joby successfully on a number of occasions for senior sales positions within my team, I found that he really took time to listen to what we wanted (and helped us find it) and rather than just bombard us with hundreds of speculative CVs, they have a a more tailored style and delivered great results. Also when it was needed they were not afraid to tell me where I had gone wrong previously and how to rectify it.. And it worked!
Zero Surplus have become our ‘go to’ recruiter. Always proactive and efficient, they make the effort to understand our agency and our people. The quality of their candidates really do stand out from the rest and they consistently find us absolute STARS who go on to flourish within our teams.
Recently we needed an agency to help us find a very specialist technical sales role, and I found Zero Surplus easily the best agency we worked with. They were informative and dedicated, and final after a long haul found us the exact person we needed. Their style of search based recruitment over just advertising, really set them apart from your average recruiter.
I was recently looking to hire a new Sales Manager after I was left in the lurch, and abandoned by another agency. Zero Surplus and particularly Joby were very helpful. After talking with them about what I needed, I realised the role I was seeking perhaps wasn’t best suited to our needs, and as a result they helped stop us making a bad decision. We’ve now filled our role in a different format, and the results are speaking for themselves. I recommend Joby and the team for any sales recruitment.
Joby was Very helpful with my job hunt, very professional and always fast with a reply and update to the situation. Couldn’t of asked for better help.
Zero Surplus was instrumental in finding me my fantastic new role, with proactive and quick communication throughout the process. Thanks to Joby for his hard work.
Been an absolute pleasure dealing with Joby and Zero Surplus, very efficient, great professionalism, went above and beyond to ensure i had all the information i needed and was very personable from start to finish.
Great experience through them, very helpful and polite. Would recommend
We have recruited a number of roles through this great company now. Every time Joby has been on the ball, relaxed and determined to find the right person for us, not just pay the numbers games that recruiter so often play. I couldn’t recommend him and his company enough.
Joby Read is a fantastic recruiter. He was supportive, professional and really helped me through the interview process. Thanks Joby!
The best recruitment agency in the East of England by a long way. Nothing is too much trouble for Joby and the team – highly recommended.
Before Zero got in touch with me, I was finding that there’s a lot out there for graduates that’s quite disingenuous, in terms of jobs and agencies, among other things. I was lucky they got in touch because working with Zero has not only been an absolute breath of fresh air but also reminded me that amazing jobs do exist!! Thank you both for everything you do and for walking me through the process!
Super helpful, knowledgeable, experienced agency. Helped me find the right job I was looking for and Joby and Tom supported me through every step. 5* service.
Dealt with Joby regarding my next job opportunity. He was very professional and discreet. Information was on hand when required and the communication between myself, Joby and my new employer was handled swiftly and efficiently. Would highly recommend Joby and the team
Such a great agency!! Joby recently helped place me within a dream role and the process from start to finish was quick and extremely smooth. really knowledgeable and they know the companies they work with so well. Couldn’t ask for more from a recruitment agency!
Joby offered a first class service. He matched me with a job role and then supported me through every stage of the process, even checking over presentations I had prepared for the interviews. In summary, I would highly recommend Joby and Zero Surplus to any jobseeker.
I had a great experience with Zero Surplus in my recent search. I felt well prepared for all interview stages and had great help and feedback along the way.
I’d highly recommend Zero Surplus if you’re considering a career change.
They were extremely helpful and successfully found me my current role. I wanted to change industries, and they had a lot of knowledge on what position would suit me based on my skills. They were friendly, personable but professional throughout the process and would respond to emails / calls quickly which made everything very easy.
Joby spoke with me to ensure my skills were relevant, and that the role was what I was looking for. He then recommended me and I found him very approachable. He did not pressure me to go for any roles I didn’t see myself working for a long time. This resulted in me trusting him to find the perfect role for me, which he did.