Top 5 Business Development Trends for 2024

January 31, 2024
Top 5 Business Development Trends for 2024

As a Business Development Professional one of your most important tasks is to stay on top of trends. This enables you to adapt your strategies and stay ahead of the competition. Watching trends is now more important than ever due to how fast technology and customer behaviours change.

While it can be daunting at first, staying on top of trends is not at all that difficult. All you have to do is follow the right sources, personalities and be reactive when you see something new that can potentially transform your business.

But don't worry, we want to make your life easier and we did the research for you. We analyzed different sources and asked business developers working on the field to tells us how their business development has evolved over time. The result is this list of the top 5 Business Development Trends for 2024.

Keep reading or watch the full webinar to discover the trends shaping the business development world in 2024.

Trend #1: Generative AI applied to Business Development

One of the most relevant business development trends for 2024 is the rise of generative AI. After all, unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard of ChatGPT and other AI tools.

Simply put, generative AI is a technology that produces various content, including text, images, audio, etc. It uses machine learning models that learn patterns and correlations to create similar content based on a given input, essentially mimicking human behaviour.

Artificial Intelligence represents a huge opportunity for business development as it helps improve productivity as well as business outcomes. According to the Nielsen Norman Group businesses leveraging generative AI have witnessed a remarkable 66% improvement in user performance. McKinsey's study further emphasises the impact of AI, revealing that companies using AI managed to decrease costs by up to 15% and increase revenue by 10%.

For us in business development, integrating AI is not just a choice but a necessity to save time, enhance efficiency, and generate more value for our companies.

Applying AI in business development involves using it to brainstorm growth ideas. For those who lack creativity, AI can be a valuable tool to revolutionise business development and create opportunities. You can also use AI for Competitive intelligence, market research and even building lead lists.

Moreover, you can streamline forecasting with the use of advanced CRM tools that enable you to better predict the effectiveness of your business development initiatives. Lastly, you can use AI to personalise your approach across different channels.

These 5 business development trends are interconnected, and integrating them is key to success in growing a business development career, adding value to companies, and achieving professional milestones.

The Business Dvelopment School - Defintion of generative AI
The BD School - Defnition of Generative AI

Trend #2: Skills-First Approach

The landscape of the labor market and business development is undergoing a significant shift with the rise of the skills-first approach. Unlike traditional reliance on specific degrees, companies are now prioritising the skills individuals possess. This shift is crucial, especially in light of the skills gap, which became even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic when work moved online.

The skills gap, highlighted by the World Economic Forum, revealed that around 174 million individuals across 12 countries (as per specific research) need re-skilling, particularly in digital skills. This underscores the challenge for companies to find suitable talent.

McKinsey's research from 2023 indicates that 43% of organisations were already experiencing a skills gap, emphasising the urgency of up-skilling and re-skilling efforts.

Companies are now placing less emphasis on degrees and more on practical skills for job performance. The World Economic Forum's Re-skilling Revolution, backed by major corporations like LinkedIn, Coursera, PwC and more, aims to re-skill up to 1 billion people with future-oriented skills by 2030. This initiative addresses the skills gap across various industries and job types.

The skills-first approach, advocated by PwC's strategy principal Bhushan Sethi, encourages companies to prioritise skills over credentials. This approach is seen as a key driver for sustainable economic and business outcomes, offering diverse career paths and addressing labor shortages.

World Economic Forum's annual surveys on the state of work highlight the top skills on the rise, including:

  • Creative thinking
  • Analytical thinking
  • Technological literacy
  • Curiosity
  • Lifelong learning

While these skills are valuable across various domains, business development professionals should focus on both soft and digital skills.

Soft skills, such as emotional intelligence, communication, problem-solving, high-level strategy, and thought leadership, are crucial in the human-centric aspect of business development. However, developing digital skills is equally essential to leverage technology for enhanced efficiency and effectiveness in the rapidly evolving business landscape.

The integration of both sets of skills positions business development professionals for success in your roles.

The Business Development School - Modern Business Development Framework
The BD School - Modern Business Development Framework

Trend #3: New Customer Expectations

Moving on to the next trend—new customer expectations. The foundation of any successful business development strategy is placing the customer first. In the ever-changing landscape of buyer behaviour, assumptions are risky. Customer preferences not only change rapidly but are also shaped by the wealth of information and options available.

Today's buyers, with 64% born after 1980, are predominantly Millennials or Gen Z.

Buyers, especially Millennials, heavily rely on online research — 89% of B2B buyers search the internet before making a purchase. Interestingly, many actively seek negative reviews for confirmation and trust-building. As customers look for information independently, the role of education during interactions diminishes.

Instead, the emphasis shifts to providing a smooth, personalised customer experience from start to end. A notable trend is the increasing importance of personalization in creating a unique and engaging customer journey. Moreover, the expectation for a swift buying process rises as customers approach with pre-existing knowledge.

If you adjust to this trend, you can say goodbye to lengthy sales cycles and exhaustive, boring demos as customers prefer free trials and hands-on experiences. They do however still like to interact with experts. The opportunity for you is to shifts your focus from traditional pitch presentations to become a thought leader and trusted advisor.

In summary, understanding and meeting these evolving customer expectations is crucial for success in the modern business development landscape.

Trend #4: Importance of Social Media

Another important business development trend is the ongoing importance of social media. While not a groundbreaking revelation, its ubiquity has reached a point where neglecting it can harm your business. The key as a business development is to use social media in a strategic way, rather than being omnipresent on every platform ay all costs.

For instance, at The BD School, even though we recognise the opportunity of TikTok, we abstain from integrating it in our strategy due to misalignment with our values.

You should focus on the platform that is most relevant to your audience and become the master of that specific platform.

Social media is indispensable for business development in 2024, as people increasingly seek information online. And it's equally important if you're currently looking for a new job, you should with recruiters constantly scrutinising LinkedIn profiles before getting in touch with candidates.

A LinkedIn statistic reveals that those adept at social selling generate 45% more opportunities, are 51% more likely to meet quotas and outperform peers by 78%.

If you want to start working on your social selling you need to work on these four components:

  • Establishing a personal or professional brand
  • Connecting with relevant individuals
  • Sharing insights
  • Building relationships

To leverage social media effectively, consider content that resonates, is trendy, educational, interactive, funny, and reflects your brand's values.

LinkedIn Data on Effectiveness of Social Media

Trend #5: Focus on Profitability

Excitingly, there's a noticeable shift towards prioritising profitability over other metrics. In the face of current crises and geopolitical uncertainties, companies are realising the urgency to focus on what truly matters for sustainable, long-term value. The days of extravagant spending on creative initiatives with uncertain returns are waning.

Business developers are entrusted with creating enduring, profitable value. This shift involves moving away from vanity metrics such as likes, comments, and impressions toward metrics that directly impact profit. While vanity metrics might look impressive, they don't necessarily translate into tangible value.

For us in business development, it means aligning strategies with revenue-driven Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Setting KPIs that link directly to revenue, such as return on investment and cost of acquisition, becomes crucial.

It's a call to work more with data, align with overarching business goals, and obsessively optimise processes for continuous improvement.

As we navigate these trends, business development is evolving into a multifaceted role. Beyond traditional sales and marketing, the modern business development professional resembles a mini-entrepreneur, possessing diverse skills in strategy, product, marketing, partnerships, and sales.

If you want to stay relevant, it's time for you to up-skill horizontally and become proficient across various functions. At The BD School we can help you become a more successful business development pro with highly personalised courses.

Check our course catalogue and start growing your business development career.

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