What is a Vice President of Business Development (BD)?
The Vice President of Business Development is responsible for creating strategic business partnerships and driving new revenue sources for the organization.
While this executive role is most common in SaaS, software and media companies, it’s one of the most misunderstood positions and goes by many names including VP of Partnerships and VP of Strategic Business Development. The day-to-day responsibilities can vary greatly depending on the size of the company and the desired goals. They can report to either a VP of Sales, CMO, CEO, or founder.
As a result, you can see the number of Google searches for VPs of Business Development has gone down in the last five years.
One of the biggest misconceptions is that the VP of Business Development is just another sales executive, such as a VP of Sales or Sales Director. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Whereas the VP of Sales is focused on closing deals, the VP of Business Development is focused on finding and developing strategic partnerships. This means research skills, competitive analysis, and a lot of account management in addition to sales chops. While sales are essential, it is not nearly as crucial as securing and vetting the right partners.
When should you hire a Vice President of BD?
Just like with traditional sales roles, the responsibilities of this role usually fall to the founder early in the company’s history. Eventually, as the company scales, you should hire a VP of Business Development. As a senior-level role, you can expect to pay this hire a six-figure base salary, so it’s important to ensure you don’t hire until you’re ready.
This hire typically happens after you have product-market fit, are closing a high ratio of prospects, and are rapidly scaling your sales team.
Vice President of BD Compensation
According to Payscale, the average base salary for a VP of Business Development is $134,039. However, this salary can range from $74,000 - $201,000.
When you add in bonuses, commissions, equity, and any profit-sharing, their take-home pay will range from $82,000 - $242,000.
What are a Vice President of BD responsibilities?
A VP of Business Development’s day-to-day responsibilities include:
- Identify and vet potential partnership deals and opportunities
- Become an expert in the company’s products and where they sit within the larger ecosystem
- Establish relationships and close big partnership deals which can even include M&As and other acquisitions
- Travel to business development meetings, industry conferences, trade shows, etc.
- Perform competitor and SWOT analysis
- Manage business development pipeline
- Work with Marketing and Sales departments on key initiatives
What does success look like for a Vice President of BD?
Unlike many other VP roles in which team-based KPIs are the norm, the VP of Business Development position is often a more autonomous role. It’s important to evaluate their work both as an individual contributor and as a part of the larger sales team.
Here are some metrics that you may want to track on a regular basis:
- Number of new partnership opportunities in the pipeline
- Number of new partnership opportunities identified and vetted
- Number of new partnerships closed
- Opportunity win rate
- Number of new partners signed in a given month or quarter
- Average deal size
What skills does a Vice President of BD need to possess?
Unlike other VP and director-level roles, the VP of Business Development is usually more focused on individual performance and account management as opposed to leadership and people management skills. This can be an ideal role for the number one closer or any talented Account Executive with exceptional analytical skills.
Here are some skills that they should possess:
- Analytical – A large chunk of this role is finding and evaluating potential new partnerships. This means that a person must be adept at understanding where the business falls within the market and gauge the impact of this new partnership.
- Resourceful – Most VPs of Business Development have only a small team or sometimes act as individual contributors. Because of that, it’s important to be able to do more with less, ruthlessly prioritize, and multi-task.
- Excellent Communicator – This role is about building and managing customer and partner relationships, which means they must be skilled verbal and written communicators.
- Persistent – Just like with traditional sales, business development is a grind. If it takes you a week to get over a deal falling through, this might not be the right role for you.
- Product Expertise – In order to effectively find and vet partnerships, you need to understand the company’s products and services inside and out.
- Proven Sales Chops – This is an excellent senior-level role for someone who was consistently the number one closer in the sales organization.