Is Business Development your dream field? Meet Gauthier Mathieu, Business Development Manager at Infor (alumni GEM PGE 2018). His testimonial reveals how challenging and rewarding this career path is. You will also learn more about what it takes to succeed in this position.
First, what has been your career path?
I decided early on to get some experience through the 2-year apprenticeship program of GEM, working at Schneider Electric, a major manufacturing company. I worked in a project management position in a Marketing team. This enabled me to work on different projects with a room for initiative while getting enough structure to learn from my peers. I had the chance to see how big corporations work, and gain knowledge from very experienced teammates.
After graduating from my Master Degree at GEM in 2018, I took a short break and then moved to Barcelona, Spain to look for a Business Development position in an IT company. Infor was the first company where I got an interview and after feeling a real fit with everyone all along the process, I went for it! I was first in charge of developing business into CAC40 accounts, the major French companies. I then changed to a Retail industry focus after getting promoted.
After 18 months at Infor I was more and more willing to contribute to my team achievement and took additional responsibilities as Business Developer Principal, being still an individual contributor while coaching new BDRs, and assisting the team on process improvements. At the beginning of 2023 I got promoted to Business Development Manager for Southern Europe, leading a team of 9 Business Developers.
How has your background prepared you for this career?
Throughout my studies and especially at GEM, I acquired business acumen. Thanks to the varied courses I attended I was able to understand different aspects of a company business and learned about many positions in companies. That is very useful in Business Development, as understanding the job, priorities, and pains of each person you interact with is key. Then, being able to understand the global context of a company and its dynamics also helps you to navigate into your key target accounts. For example, in total lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on many supply chains was huge. All industries who depended on Chinese production got impacted, and understanding which ones were impacted the most, you have an edge.
Can you briefly introduce the company you are currently working with?
Infor is a multinational software company that provides cloud software solutions for various industries, including manufacturing, fashion, automotive, hospitality, and more. The company is headquartered in NYC and has offices all around the world. Our software solutions help companies like Ferrari, Adidas or Heineken streamline their operations, improve efficiency, and increase profitability.
First challenge, put yourself in the shoes of your prospect. Second challenge, face rejection without taking it personally
What exactly does your job involve? What are your daily missions and main challenges?
In the IT world, a Business Development role is an ideal first Sales job as the sales cycle is often complex and long.
A Business Developer in charge of uncovering new business opportunities that fit the strategy of the targeted company, and nurture our contacts there until the IT project is mature enough to involve more people from both the company's side and the Infor side. It is a very important role, as you are the first point of contact between the future customer and your company. You are its ambassador and responsible together with Marketing, to create brand awareness.
In order to do that, you need to work with inbound leads (prospects sourced by marketing) and outbound leads (prospects sourced by yourself) to get conversations and meetings using a multichannel approach that includes calling, emailing, LinkedIn, videos (and more with creativity). Different tools are at your disposal to help prioritize companies to target, get contact information and relevant knowledge about them. Quantity is nothing without quality: there is a big part of qualitative work to prepare strategies, collaborating with Marketing, Field Sales, Product experts.
The first challenge of a BDR is to always put yourself in the shoes of your prospect. If you want to help them, you need to understand them. A second challenge is to face rejection without taking it personally: as a BDR you get more negative responses than positive and it requires character to keep going. A third one is to cope with having a clear measurable target. It can put some pressure if you are behind but at the same time you know what you need to do and if you do it well, your success is recognized. These challenges are great life learning experiences that I can only recommend!
Why did you choose a career in the marketing field?
At Schneider Electric, my previous employer, I felt that my colleagues who had a Sales background understood the business better. I then digged into Sales careers, discovered how exciting it is to be in touch with prospects and customers and that it is a challenging and rewarding career path, especially in the IT industry. I needed no more.
What advice would you give to a candidate who wants to start a career in Business Development?
Look for an industry that interests you, and a company you believe in. More than in other jobs, as a Business Developer you need to believe you can and will help your future customers.
Choose the company and the manager you'll be working with wisely: there are a lot of companies offering Business Development roles but not many of them provide the structure and the knowledge to learn and grow.
Dig into the expectations and targets you will get. As there is a sizeable variable part in your salary, it is important to know if what is expected from you is reachable or not, otherwise you could be disappointed.
In your opinion, what are the 3 main skills and qualities you must have to succeed in your position?
Curiosity, organization and resilience.
Constantly analyze what is working, what is not, and be curious about new things you can try to implement or learn are essential.
Being able to prioritize and manage different urgencies while keeping the focus on your end goals is a must for a Business Developer.
Resilience is what pays off in the end so you need to stay motivated in the long run. A good team and manager can help but ultimately you need to nurture your own motivation.
What makes you get up in the morning?
My every day driver is to keep learning - from others and from new experiences. It is always the one KPI I end up looking at when I have to make a personal or career decision.
Otherwise… I admit I sometimes need a cold shower to really wake up in the morning. Google it, it has many incredible effects!
Feel free to connect with me via LinkedIn. I’ll be happy to chat with other Gémiens !