This week I had a chat with Henry Regan, Managing Partner at Carbon Global to find out what he thinks makes someone right for a role in new Business Development.
Elodie: Carbon Global has been actively recruiting recently and you, Henry, have been conducting the first interviews to find our new business development manager. Which personality traits have you been looking for and that you believe are key to be successful?
Henry: I think it’s a really good question. I’ve obviously got my ideas but I’m gonna switch roles and ask you the same question, purely because you’re not prepared for it. I think this highlights two of my own opinions on the topic. The first is that being able to improvise and not being afraid to jump in with both feet is a hugely important character trait for BD. No matter who you’re speaking to you can never anticipate how the conversation will go or what they will ask of you. This uncertainty can be crippling for a lot of people. We’re looking for those who thrive in the unknown. And two, on the flip side, a drive to research and be prepared is also key in this job. For every single contact you try to reach, you have to have a unique set of information gained in various ways, whether that’s checking their LinkedIn, socials or however you do your research. This enables you to answer their questions in the most concise and confident way. Go ahead, tell me your ideas.
Elodie: I believe curiosity and wanting to get to know other people is very important. This often goes hand in hand with being friendly, approachable, and likable, which is key to building good relationships on a first call. Ultimately, you want them to understand that you’re genuinely interested in them, their company, and their challenges.
Henry: I think people often assume that you should be extroverted to be in the job. I don’t think that’s the case. You can be a social introvert and be absolutely fine in business development because it’s more methodical than that. You know, you’re not trying to sell anything at the end of the call, you’re just trying to have a conversation with people. As you said, being likable definitely gives you a kind of edge as people definitely buy from people. What else do you think is important because there’s obviously also a lot of administration to do in business development and lead generation?
Elodie: Yes, being autonomous and keen to get things done are also important attributes because there are always admin tasks to do in addition to calling prospects. To that, we could add the usefulness of being well organised and a willingness to take on responsibilities to get the work done.
Henry: I think that all is key, yes. There’s a self-diligence that people must have as well because, here at Carbon Global, we’ve put in so much work to streamline the internal systems and processes, it’s vital that we all adhere to our operations processes. Without this diligence, your role becomes about correcting people’s mistakes rather than building and streamlining the operations department. We can also add to this social intelligence. Indeed, we do not just want to get something from a prospect, we also want to build a professional relationship through a personable and honest conversation. Going back to our acting training, we had to learn to demonstrate some kind of openness and boldness when facing uncertain situations in addition to being able to improvise. In lead generation, you’re speaking to somebody who you have never spoken to and who has no idea who you are. While your objective is to secure a meeting, sometimes you can be taken by surprise by where a conversation is heading. So I think we can also add that one should have a lot of tenacity and determination.
Elodie: When recruiting, are you looking for particular experiences whether personal, educational, or professional?
Henry: As mentioned, I think social intelligence is key but academic intelligence is as important. I think they come in different legitimate ways. Academic intelligence is key to conducting your research and your ability to write out meeting notes to clients while social intelligence will help craft your way through a conversation with a prospect. This mix will enable a business development manager to read up about a company, understand the industry and be on the pulse of current conversations.
Inevitably, excellent written English is vital. There’s also obviously some kind of level of fluency that is imperative especially since we work across various sectors and industries that can have very complicated vocabulary.
Everyone can bring something different to the table in business development and lead generation. I don’t think there is a prerequisite of what you need to be in that position. We are not brain surgeons or astronauts. You know, we do like to bring in people who don’t necessarily have relevant experience on the surface. I think a lot of the time when we hire experienced salespeople, it’s tricky to unlearn practices from past professional experiences.
Elodie: Finally, do you believe there are any misconceptions about the role?
This isn’t a sales role. You know, we only sell a cup of tea and that’s the biggest misconception of what lead generation is. We are not the sales cycle, we are a hard-working cog within the sales cycle and we help to build that pipeline up and nurture those contacts. Basically, we are the door opener at a posh hotel, giving that first experience. I think of myself as a man with a top hat. So it’s not about being aggressively salesy like many might have initially conceived of the job. It’s about the personal touch. As we have said many times already, people buy from people.
Strategic Operations Manager