The qualifications needed to become a business development representative may vary depending on the industry and the employer. Many employers prefer candidates with a college degree in business administration, marketing, economics, or finance. Experience with customer service, sales, lead generation, and customer relationship management (CRM) software might be necessary. Since a business development representative position involves persuasion and sales skills, knowledge of the company's product category and industry is often crucial.
To become a business development representative, an undergraduate degree in business with an emphasis in sales and marketing is often needed. Four year programs can help to prepare future professionals for a career in sales when courses in business to business sales, consumer behavior, and direct sales are taken. As the job duties of a business development representative require initiative, leadership, and self-discipline, a college degree is used as a way to select individuals who may have strong skills in these areas. Advanced or senior level business development representative positions may require a master's degree in business administration (MBA).
While some employers may hire recent college graduates for business development trainee positions, others prefer new hires to have one to two years of sales and customer service experience. Professionals seeking to become a business development representative can gain this experience in specialty retail, inside sales, or in entry-level account coordinator positions. The industry that an individual gains his sales experience in can be important for future career development since product and technical knowledge may be preferred by employers seeking to fill advanced sales roles.
Individuals who wish to become a business development representative for technical products, such as computer hardware, software, or mobile devices, may find it helpful to gain experience with these types of products. Many employers who hire sales representatives expect employees to be somewhat familiar with how technical products work. They may also expect business development representatives to be able to communicate difficult technical concepts to customers in a clear, concise manner.
In addition to sales and customer service experience, those who wish to become a business development representative should become familiar with customer relationship management (CRM) software. These applications store databases of sales leads and current clients, including order activity and sales volume history. Some CRM applications have the ability to automatically generate business reviews for individual clients. These reviews can help a business development representative identify sales opportunities, while learning about performance strengths and weaknesses of each client.