In a piece first published by PM Forum Magazine, Totum’s Marketing and Business Development consultant Jenny Owen discusses trends, skills and harnessing talent in the M&BD function for 2024. 

As we head into 2024, it’s understandable in today’s political and economic climate that many of us may feel some trepidation as to what this year might hold. But for marketing and business development (BD) professionals in the professional services sector, there are many reasons to be optimistic as firms continue to compete for candidates at all levels.

In an increasingly sophisticated market, firms are looking to increase capabilities creating a dynamic environment for those interested in developing skills in traditional and new areas including marketing technology and operations, product marketing, sales, panel management, social media, and pipeline management and pursuits. This has led to a busy time for us at Totum, particularly in the recruitment of BD professionals at executive and manager level, which typically has a high attrition rate.

Trends ahead

We have seen specialist roles continuing to grow, creating lots of opportunities for people to step up or move sideways to gain new experience across skillsets in BD, marketing, PR, sales, client relationships and digital. We have also seen an increase in smaller firms recruiting or refocusing activities around BD with more strategic and senior level hires. Typical of the past few years, those who have a few years’ experience under their belt are particularly in demand – and there is increased interest in candidates coming into professional services from other industries, particularly those with relevant sector expertise for sector-specific roles.

At more experienced levels, many US and global firms continue to assess where in the world to place talent, both to best support partners and from a commercial cost perspective. This has led to an increase in opportunities in UK regions and across Europe, as well as more roles in London, where there’s a wealth of skills and experience on offer with optimum ROI.

Data and insight will be key focal points for 2024 and beyond, going in hand with an escalating interest in AI. Developing marketing channels across digital platforms and martech systems remains key, while we also see an increase in research, analysis and intelligence roles across teams, as firms need to stay on top of rapidly changing industry trends, horizon scanning for potential risks and possible openings for new business.

We are seeing lots of discussions around using data in collaboration with AI and machine learning in areas like supporting business intelligence and client relationships. In the long run, this may result in a reduction in roles needed for mundane tasks but equally a rise in strategic roles where people can add more value.

Harnessing potential

In a time of considerable change and uncertainty, where AI seems poised to change everything we know about our world of work, we see marketing and BD professionals playing a pivotal role in bringing together technology, data, business processes, procurement, business and client intelligence, communication, and client experience, to open up new business lines and help define a firm’s identity, both internally and externally, long into the future.

And they will do so in today’s hybrid workplace, where firms need people who can help unlock and enable collaboration within businesses and markets better than ever before, enhanced by technology that can seamlessly connect people across global locations. Marketing and BD professionals are primed to help firms make the most of this fast-evolving landscape.

Proof of talent

Marketing & BD’s contribution to today’s professional services sector (and its further potential into the future) was once again brought home by Totum’s Rising Star Award for up-and-coming marketing and BD talent (below manager level), which kicked off our 2024.

The awards, now in their third year, are designed to recognise the huge contribution made by professionals at the early stages of their careers. The nominations always amaze us, representing the huge breadth of opportunities now available to those starting out in marketing and BD in the professional services sector, from getting involved in CRM systems and data visualisation to events support, PR and communications, reporting and analysis, internal training, client presentations… the list goes on.

Our Rising Star judges bring senior marketing, BD, PR leaders shaping regional, national and international firms together. But it is the people that have been nominated that are the real winners and we look forward to celebrating their achievements again in 2024.

Our judges and rising stars all represent the highest calibre in today’s marketing and BD function, not only because of the significant responsibilities and remits of their roles, but also for the breadth of skills and capabilities they offer. From the nominations through to the judging process, we get to see first-hand the many different career routes the next generation of marketing and BD professionals might take as they advance their careers across burgeoning opportunities in both specialist and generalist roles to leadership roles.

Firms wishing to secure the best talent to fill this wealth of roles need to offer variety, flexibility, diversity, a strong career path including excellence in training, and good earning potential. And they need to continue to think creatively about where such talent may come from – a willingness to think beyond any one sector to source diverse talent from the widest talent pool, will result in teams with the capabilities to embrace whatever the future might hold. 

To read the full piece as seen in PM Forum, click here.

To discuss Totum’s specialist marketing and BD recruitment opportunities, Jenny can be contacted  at [email protected]

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