What are the traits of a successful Business Development Executive in a Professional Services firm?

The traits of a successful Business Development Executive in Professional Services firms

The traits of a successful Business Development Executive in Professional Services firms

Emily Tomlin

October 6, 2023
Growth is key to professional services firms. It’s a very transparent and competitive world, where profit per equity partner is often available for all to see. Growth can often be linked to long-term profitability, but it can also help you attract top talent, reinforcing success. In the realm of professional service firms, Business Development Executives play a pivotal role in steering this growth and prosperity. To excel in this role, you need a unique set of traits that encompass strategic vision, relationship building, adaptability, exceptional communication, a results-driven approach, problem-solving skills, and empathy and understanding.

Strategic insight & Business Development Executives

One of the paramount traits of a successful Business Development Executive is a strategic vision. Working with partners, business heads, and listening to feedback from the market to anticipate market trends is key to the role. This strategic insight enables informed decision-making aligned with the company's objectives and ensures that resources are allocated effectively. In the world of targets and KPIs, strategic nous is often overlooked as a key strength, but it’s extremely important.

While strategic vision is often focused on new business, and opening new business lines, effective relationship building is a cornerstone of successful business development and retaining existing clients. A skilled executive nurtures relationships with clients, stakeholders, and potential partners, fostering lasting partnerships crucial for the growth of the business. In our experience, successful Business Development Executives don’t see themselves as salespeople, but as solvers of client problems. The ability to understand a client’s needs and to find solution is often key to long-term, value add, relationships. It’s certainly worth spending time in interview, or on reviews, understanding how your BD team view client relationships and client service. A mismatch of ethos can often spell trouble ahead.

The importance of adaptability

The recent pandemic has taught us many lessons, but a key learning is that the world can change very quickly. Indeed, we’ve also seen the economy pivot from a post-unlocking boom, to more difficult times. Adaptability is vital in a constantly evolving business landscape. Being open to change, embracing new technologies, and adjusting strategies based on market dynamics are essential facets of this trait. Flexibility ensures the firm remains relevant and competitive. To remain flexible, you have to ensure you’re taking on market information at all times, and creating a culture where you change norms with constant evaluation of how you work.

Successful Business Development Executives are highly results oriented. They set clear objectives, develop actionable plans, and consistently strive to achieve and exceed these targets. This trait is underpinned by a strong work ethic and a commitment to delivering value to clients and the organisation. Leadership teams need to understand that rewards need to be clearly defined to ensure that they get the best from their BD teams.

It’s very easy for professional services firms to overlook the contribution their Business Development teams make, but a skilled Business Development Executive, and team, can be a transformational force for many firms.

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