An introduction to our company …
DevelopmentAid was founded in 2007 and is the worlds’ leading informational platform in the field of official development assistance; the market totaled USD 153.0 billion in 2018. We provide business intelligence and recruiting services to consulting organizations, engineering firms, academic institutions, and donor organizations from around the globe. We serve a community of over 120.000 organizations and more than 150.000 individual consultants.
Business Development Manager – the Ambassador of DevelopmentAid
Our team consists of over 180 talented and passionate people: analysts, developers, designers, marketers, career advisers, recruiters, and business developers. All of our employees work synergistically to ensure an eco-system that drives performance and creative thinking. Among the people who have to be innovative and creative every day are those who stand at the forefront of our company and are the first faces that our clients see. These are the Business Development Managers (BDMs), the Ambassadors of DevelopmentAid for our Corporate clients that are based worldwide, starting from Alaska, and ending up in New Zealand.
Currently, the Corporate Sales Department includes 28 members. Fifteen of them are BDMs. Their primary goal is to identify and establish long-lasting relations with our clients by solving multiple problems that companies meet in the procurement process, partner search, proposal preparation, and more. BDMs are the key executives when it comes to gaining a higher market share via new corporate clients’ acquisition. Business Development Managers do it by consulting potential clients on the ways to increase their competitiveness in the market as well as win more tenders or grants. It is a fundamental function of the BDM position because its principal goal is not to identify a potential lead and sell a membership but rather, to carefully create and maintain a long-lasting relationship with clients throughout their journey.
As one would understand, the BDM position requires strong communication and negotiation skills, analytical and client-focused thinking, as well as rapport-building competencies on which DevelopmentAid’s long-term operations highly depend.
Field Trips – A BDM perk and challenge
Being a BDM involves much persistence and focused concentration at the office. However, it also implies a high level of mobility and work dynamics due to the possibility of departing in field missions. The CSD director, Sergiu Casu, defines field missions as “the work is done in a foreign country, where BDMs schedule anything between three to five business meetings per day”. These locations range from neighboring countries in Europe to remote and exotic places, such as the Philippines, the USA, Australia, South Africa, Kenya, Vietnam, and more. Understandably, all field trips involve a considerable amount of planning and responsibility, so they can arguably be considered a benefit and privilege of the position which BDMs aspire to. Field trips are unique because BDMs have the chance to meet their clients face-to-face (F2F). Such meetings save time, which is usually spent on the phone to explain to the gate-keepers why BDMs need to talk to the CEO or the project managers. F2F interactions are intense and valuable, as they bring better knowledge and understanding of our client’s needs and expectations, which, in turn, help us develop a product that continues to lead in the development sector. Field missions also increase the trust in our people and company that shortens the decision-making time and tightens our business cooperation.
As one can see, the BDM’s role in the field missions is exponential, as their performance abroad directly dictates the client’s perception of DevelopmentAid and the ultimate results of the meeting.
Going on field missions – who is selected?
Understandably, the selection process of Business Development Managers fit to represent our company on field missions is thorough. In theory, Sergiu Casu says anyone possessing a passport and knowledge of our product could be eligible. However, the set of skills needed for a field mission in comparison to office contact with a client differs a lot. In a field trip, BDMs should have all the answers to client questions, as there will not be a second chance or option to think and then respond. Everything happens right on the spot! As a result, the first criterion for the selection of a BDM is the perfect knowledge of:
- The DevelopmentAid system
- Our competitors
- Procurement procedures
- Recruitment processes in a company
- Business development processes in a company, etc.
From practice, Sergiu notes that people with high business and ethical standards are selected, with a good track record of results obtained in the office and demonstrated convincing, negotiating, and sales skills before going abroad. It is important to note that among selection criteria, gender, age, race, nationality or religion are never considered, as these have absolutely no role in the BDMs performance and the outcome of the mission.
Real-life stories from our BDMs …
The essence of the BDM position and the experience of going in field trips is best understood through the prism of real-life examples. As such, our BDMs opened up to us and shared their stories, uncovering the life of a successful BDM, with all of its ups and downs.
The first field trip is undeniably the most memorable for a BDM, as confirmed by our colleagues. The thrill of departing to a new location, the responsibility for conveying our product appropriately, and communicating with potential clients face-to-face all marked our BDMs on their first attempt to engage with organizations outside our headquarters’ bounds. Nevertheless, being supported by the accompanying senior BDM in resolving difficulties, as well as factoring in some free time for sightseeing and experiencing local culture have been mentioned as significant and helpful perks of the first work mission. Moreover, Alexandr Repin, Senior BDM, told us that his first field trip to Italy in 2016 served as one of the most efficient training experiences for him.
As BDMs gain traction and travel to more and more locations, their perspective changes to a certain extent, and overall, field trips take up a specific shape. Meetings become more intense and productive as BDMs grow more experienced. Nevertheless, every new mission is a new challenge. Alexandr reminisced about his field mission in South Korea, where 4 out of 12 visited companies signed up for DevelopmentAid’s services. To describe field trips as time passes, our Senior BDM Ana Marin stated:
“All are challenging in a way. No one trip is like the other.”
Besides having substantial professional importance, field missions undeniably imply funny and exciting stories, making the BDM experience unique and memorable. Our colleague, Senior BDM Ana Marin told us she still remembers her adventures in Catania, Italy, a remote area with very limited access to public transport, internet, and other modern commodities. As a true BDM, she found her way out of all Italian challenges and succeeded in acquiring amusing memories from her trip.
Similarly, Rafael Alessandro Romo Mulas told us about his hunt for a particular replacement for his broken phone in Antwerp, Belgium. Again, his BDM qualities helped him persevere and reach his objective. Besides getting his hands on the last model in stock in the whole country, Rafael remembered this mission for the cultural immersion of Belgian pub culture introduced to him by local colleagues. He recounted how his field trip began and ended in the same famous cult pub, which no doubt, transformed a work trip into a lifestyle memory:
“The most fun though was for sure the first evening … They brought us to the most famous beer pub, which is the first in the world by the number of beers served. My type of place! We returned there also after the last meetings were over on the last day and had a blast.”
Such inspiring stories hint to the vast amount of traveling and discoveries that our BDMs experience, which undoubtedly helps them gather an understanding of the local culture and supports their professional interactions.
Field missions are indisputably enriching, demonstrating the professionalism of our colleagues and helping them discover new ways of living and working outside of classical settings. Besides inevitable challenges that come with such diversity, field trips are a unique perk of being a Business Development Manager at DevelopmentAid, as confirmed by our BDMs themselves. As part of their field missions, our colleagues had the opportunity to visit locations they might have never thought of traveling to individually, such as Belgium, Italy, Portugal, Greece, the Netherlands, the US, Denmark, Australia, Asian and African countries, and many more. It seems that this habit stuck, and our BDMs have become passionate about traveling outside of work, thanks to their field trip adventures. Our colleague Ana Marin told us about the influence that work trips had on her hobbies:
“The first field mission propelled me to start traveling more on my own. I’ve been to 19 countries so far and still counting. It is more than a hobby now, it is a way of life”.
Describing the essence of Business Development Managers by looking at the responsibilities and tasks they have to perform, one might paint an equally exciting yet straightforward picture of the position. In reality, it is the contrary. Becoming a BDM is a complex and multifaceted job choice. Considering it through the lens of multi-cultural communication, client problem-solving, and field trips, DevelopmentAid offers a diverse and unique opportunity for professional & personal growth.
Another colleague of ours, Alla Uzun, describes the importance of communicating with your client in person:
“Yes, it’s not easy to sell face-to-face to a client compared to office communication, yet, it’s great to put a face to a name.”
Besides interpersonal interactions, field trips help BDMs to look at our services and product from a different perspective, and the outcome for both parties is indeed positive. As one of the BDMs puts it:
“During these field missions, you can better understand the value of the product you sell.”
Of course, due to the great contrast in the culture, languages, and people, we meet, presenting, and convincing our clients while being on their territory, can be overwhelming. However, this is where the innate BDM spirit comes into play, and our colleagues’ grit helps them in completing their mission with success. Rafael Mulas explains how the challenges of such work trips are addressed by the BDMs’ abilities, resulting in their professional success:
“All BDMs are quite similar when it comes to their love for social interactions, and this makes it really important to go on field missions, because this aspect of us reflects on the interactions with the clients, and it translates into easier and faster sales.”
A concluding message …
Being a Business Development Manager is not an easy feat – yet a very responsible and rewarding one. Combining intense office work with the opportunity of traveling and engaging in on-the-spot sales is a winning combination that ensures unparalleled personal and professional growth. Proportionate to the implied duties of the job are its benefits, and our BDMs can vouch for that. Alla Uzun summarized her profession as a tough, but worthy endeavor:
“I love my job, although it’s not easy to persuade people into buying our product. It’s a positive environment, it’s great to have a flexible schedule and most existing – business trips, although sometimes it’s exhausting.”
Similarly, Rafael characterizes being a Business Development Manager as the …
“intersection between sales, development, marketing, and the social aspect of talking to the client, which as I say, I also view a bit as a diplomatic mission … the benefits are the level of satisfaction when we are successful, the opportunity to travel, and the autonomy in the way we work”.
Undeniably, such lively and vibrant testimonials reflect a truly extroverted and energic profession – one that aims to inspire professionals to enhance their careers with the help of DevelopmentAid.