What Makes A Great Software Sales Business Development Manager?

BDM has the success of your software sales business in their hands. They are crucial to driving your business forward, keeping your clients happy, and increasing your market share. 

So how do you separate the truly great BDM candidates from the mediocre? Everyone will tell you what you want to hear in the interview (they’re salespeople, after all), so it’s your job to dig a little deeper and really test the candidate. 

(As your specialist software sales recruiter, we’ll help by only sending you top quality candidates, which is half the battle won!) 

Here are seven traits of brilliant software sales BDM’s, as well as ways to identify if the candidate sitting in front of you really has that quality, or if they’re just telling you what they think you want to hear… 


They have a constant improvement mindset. 

The best BDMs are always learning. They’re veritable sponges for new information-whether it’s new developments in tech, different sales techniques, or just general knowledge so they always have something interesting to say to clients. And because software is changing constantly, you’ll need someone who is alert to the zeitgeist, and always jumps on the newest update.  

When you’re interviewing, look for the dynamic person who has lots of ideas, knows a great deal about your business already, and seems generally interested in a wide range of topics. 

They should also be overflowing with ideas about how to increase your sales—that’s what they’re there for, after all! So quiz them on their processes to build and follow leads, how they project their business forecasts, and where they think their negotiating skills lie.  

You should leave the meeting extremely excited about the sales boost this person will bring to your business. If you don’t feel that buzz, you probably haven’t found the right software sales BDM. 



Great presentation skills and composure. 

You know you’re in the hands of a master BDM when you notice that you’re genuinely engaged in what they’re saying and completely at ease. Top business development managers are exceptional presenters, are articulate, and have the gift of composure under pressure.  

They’re also good at making others comfortable, and can talk easily to people at all levels, from the CEO right through to the receptionist. Speaking of which, inviting someone from the C-Suite into the interview is a great way to see the candidate relates to high-influence stakeholders, and you should always check with the receptionist to see how the candidate spoke to them. 


Their results do the talking. 

Someone applying at BDM level should have some seriously impressive sales results behind them. Their CV should detail specific examples of the results they’ve delivered for their past companies, from managing complex sales cycles to increasing sales in their territory by a significant percentage.

Look carefully at their results for more than one past role: anyone can be lucky by landing a plumb territory which was naturally going through a growth stage for software sales (such as if the region has an expanding population, a recent tech infrastructure rollout, or is rapidly gentrifying.) So dig into their past history and look for consistent patterns of success. 


A no-excuses mindset. 

In psychology, there’s two kinds of people when it comes to how we view our successes and failures. Someone who believes they control their own life and are responsible for their own success has an ‘internal locus of control’ 

On the other hand, we’ve all met someone with the opposite: the person who blames the world and external circumstances for every setback. This person has what’s referred to as an ‘external locus of control’ and at work in a sales environment, it often plays out in excuses: ‘My territory was impossible, the manager had it in for me, no-one wanted to buy the software anymore’. (You’ve heard it all before, no doubt!) 

Obviously, the BDM you’re looking for doesn’t make excuses. So, ask a few probing questions in the interview about times they’ve failed to hit target. Who do they blame? Do they take any responsibility? Their responses will be telling, so listen hard. 


Genuine tech ability. 



You want someone who can demo the product online and in person during pre-sales, so hands-on tech savviness is required, not just someone who can learn product knowledge from a manual. 

The BDM’s who excel in software sales often (but not always) have a degree in a field that complements IT sales nicely. The obvious graduates to look for are computer science, computer/software engineers, business information systems/technology, as well as those qualified in business management, electronics, mathematics, or physics. 

But don’t forget that BDMs are an incredible customer-facing role, so don’t get blinded by the technically brilliant but reserved Oxbridge candidate if they don’t appear to possess the verve and tenacity to make it as a top salesperson. 


They’re good at breaking down complex tech jargon into layman’s terms. 

A BDM will spend a great deal of time trying to sell your software to people with differing levels of tech knowledge. Someone who cannot break down tech language into everyday language simply will not succeed as a BDM. Of course, every candidate will tell you they excel at this, so how do you figure out that it’s true? 

A great test of this ability is to ask the candidate to read some complex software instructions during the interview, then explain how they would walk a client through the product or a problem they’re having based on the information they’ve been given. It’s a tough test as the person will be entirely unfamiliar with the product, but a truly competent BDM will rise to the challenge.  


They love a good system. 

You can get successful salespeople who are a bit chaotic in their approach. Unfortunately, chaos always catches up and they’re often not successful in the long term. The top BDM’s are sticklers for systems and processes, as they understand this systematic approach must underpin any exponential growth of sales. Look for someone who appreciates process.  


Finding your BDM candidate.  

Here at LivRecruitsoftware sales recruitment is what we do. Because we’re IT sales recruitment specialists, we understand the sector better than a generalist recruiter ever can, and we know how to spot a BDM candidate who can make the crucial difference to your business.  Want our help? Then call us on 0161 883 2856 or email us here.