BANT: Definition and goals
What is BANT?
Definition and acronym
BANT is an acronym which can be broken down into 4 elements. You need to consider all of them to assess whether the prospect is a good fit for your product or service:
• Budget: how much can they spend and will they spend it on your solution?
• Authority: who has the final say in their organization?
• Need: is your product a solution to their problem(s)?
• Timeline: when are they planning on giving their final answer?
You should note that the order is not set in stone: just begin with the most urgent aspect and from that point on, just follow the order of priorities. Simply adjust to whatever seems to be the most relevant one, given your prospect’s circumstances. For example: if they are looking for a solution ASAP, focus on the Need first.
Principles of BANT
The four notions tackled by BANT are criteria to qualify leads :
• Are they able and willing to spend enough money for your solution?
• Is your lead authorized to make the purchasing decision on behalf of their company?
• To what extent does your solution alleviate their pain points?
• Is their timeline for answering/buying acceptable to your organization?
BANT is all about asking (qualification) questions to determine whether each and every of the four criteria –budget, authority, needs and timeline– is met. Generally speaking, you want at least three out of them to qualify a prospective customer. However, it is up to you really. Besides, Budget, for instance, is always a deal breaker.
When & Why is BANT qualification methodology useful?
The BANT methodology is straight to the point and rather simple to use. This is why it is one of the most widely spread ones.
BANT can be implemented right from the very beginning of any sales process during the first sales call or meeting. Note that it is best used in live situations because it will be very hard if not impossible to ask all the qualification questions in an email.
Indeed, qualification requires finesse, you can’t just go and bluntly ask a series of questions. You need to avoid at all costs coming across as pushy or intrusive. This is a conversation, you just need to properly guide it and let the prospect tell you everything you need to know.
With BANT, qualification is done from the get-go so your sales reps don’t have to worry about wasting any time on someone who has no intention or capacity to buy anything any time soon. It can be used in almost any environment but you might want to supplement it with other sales qualification frameworks because, as we will see, it does have several shortcomings.
Understanding the 4 BANT criteria for a proper analysis
Now that we have seen the general concept of the methodology, let’s take a closer look at all the BANT criteria. Each one of them represents a critical aspect of your prospect’s operational situation so it is paramount to be aware of what you and your sales team will be keeping an eye out for.
The first component of BANT focuses on the prospect’s budget, addressing the question of whether the lead has the financial resources to make a purchase (and is willing to spend it on your solution). As we pointed out previously, your sales teams need to answer this early in the sales process to avoid investing time and resources in leads who cannot afford any of what you offer.
Here is a selection of pertinent questions you can include in your preparation brief before a sales call or a sales meeting (remember to use them as talking points, not as outright questions) :
• If budget constraints were not an issue, what would their ideal investment look like?
• What budget can we anticipate, and what is their current spending on this issue?
• Considering potential gains, how does the estimated return compare to their budget?
• What role does pricing play in their decision?
• What ROI are they aiming for?
• What do they expect regarding pricing and spending for this type of purchase? • Is there flexibility in their budget?
• Currently, with no solution in place, what is the financial impact?
• Have they previously implemented a similar service, and if so, what ROI and cost were involved?
• Have they explored other options, their costs, and what return do they anticipate?
Authority refers to the decision-making power within the prospect’s organization. It is essential to identify whether your contact has enough authority to make purchasing decisions. If it’s not the case, your sales team may need to navigate the organization’s hierarchy to reach the key decision-maker. They will then have to figure out the prospect’s role, responsibilities, and influence within the company. To avoid unnecessary delays, the sooner they contact the right person, the better.
Qualification questions examples:
• Who is the final decision-maker regarding that kind of purchase?
• Does anyone else need to be involved in this decision?
• How many signatures do we need?
• Who are the stakeholders? Who has the most influence over the decision-making process?
• Is anyone going to be openly opposed to the purchase? Can we win them over? How can we achieve that?
• Who will be using the product?
• How have past products been received?
• Is their team receptive to change?
• How did the last decision-making process go?
• How much authority does your main point of contact have?
The “Need” component revolves around your lead having a genuine interest in your offer. Here, your sales reps will try to understand the prospect’s pain points, challenges, and goals to adjust their upcoming sales pitch. Indeed, by addressing genuine pain points early in the sales cycle, they can position their solution as a valuable and relevant resource, increasing the likelihood of conversion.
Here are a few examples of questions your teams will try to find an answer to:
• What prompted them to seek a solution?
• Could they share the most challenging aspects or pain points of their job? • How long has this been a persistent issue for them?
• Do they currently have plans to address these challenges, and what actions have they taken so far?
• What are their current priorities, and what goals has their team set for the upcoming year? How would neglecting this need impact their team’s objectives?
• In what ways do they believe a proposed solution could contribute to resolving this issue, and how crucial is addressing it?
• Are there any upcoming events where they require a solution, and what consequences do they foresee if a resolution isn’t found for this issue?
The last element is your prospect’s timeline regarding their decision-making process. At stake here: understanding when the prospect intends to make a purchase or implement a solution.
This will help your sales teams prioritize and manage leads effectively as well as align their sales strategy with the prospect’s schedule. This synchronization in turn helps provide the right information and support at each stage of the decision-making process.
• What goals do they have for the next 6 months?
• How quickly are they looking to get started with a solution? Is it a top priority ?
• Is there any deadline for implementation?
• What is the average length of their partnership onboarding/integration process?
• Is there a deadline for getting the budget approved for this solution?
• How rapidly can the approval process be expected to proceed?
• Given the timeline they provided, finalizing an agreement by an earlier date would be necessary. Does that align with their schedule?
Some transversal questions may overlap multiple categories, for instance, “what do they expect from your solution?” is relevant to at least both Need and Budget.
BANT in sales processes
How to efficiently implement the BANT method?
We’ve already covered what you should not do with BANT under any circumstance: directly asking generic questions as if you were going over a checklist. What remains to be discussed is what you can do to make it work smoothly and qualify leads efficiently. Here are a few guidelines.
Budget: broaden your perspectives
Sure, matching the Budget with pricing is quintessential to sales qualification. But who said it isn’t flexible? Even though money turns out to be their main pain point, it doesn’t necessarily mean your prospect is unqualified.
Particularly for services, the subscription model has been going strong for the last decade or so, to the point that Software as as Service was invented and developed. Today, even Microsoft Office 365 requires a subscription.
So there is room for shifting the focus to the prospect’s anticipated Return on Investment (ROI) as a crucial indicator of budget alignment.
Authority: prepare for multi-layered decision-making processes
It’s another modern-day trend: now decisions tend to be made collectively rather than individually. You need to acknowledge this and be ready to map out multiple stakeholder groups. Establish connections with each involved party, considering roles, decision authority, and priorities.
Need: assess problem significance
Evaluate the importance of the prospect’s identified problem :
• their motivation to address it;
• potential consequences if left unchecked;
• competing priorities within their planning.
Timeline: make a roadmap
Gain insights into the urgency of the decision-making process within the prospect’s organization. This will enable you to effective pipeline planning and make you ready for timely deal closure.
Stay attuned to the prospect’s activities through diverse channels such as social media, newsletters, and public events. This way you anticipate:
• potential delays;
• arising needs.
Efficient relationship management and progress tracking within your sales pipeline also involves leveraging digital tools like CRMs: you will be able to handle multiple prospects simultaneously while maintaining a clear overview of each deal’s status.
BANT sales: advantages and limitations
A key advantage of leveraging the BANT framework lies in its adaptability across diverse buyer personas : questions can be seamlessly adjusted to the specific prospective customer. This subsequently allows for application in a whole variety of sales environments: SaaS, B2B (primarily), B2C (increasingly), etc.
Another significant benefit of adhering to the BANT framework would be maintaining team coherence. Indeed, BANT sets consistent standards for opportunity qualification, ensuring everyone on the team speaks a common language.
Certain aspects of this decades-old framework may fall short in contemporary sales scenarios: budget, for instance, can pose challenges. Disqualifying a prospect solely based on their current readiness to buy might overlook potential opportunities if their circumstances change, such as securing funding. Another drawback is BANT’s inclination towards a seller-centric approach. By focusing on qualification, you risk missing out on relationship-building and value provision, potentially deterring prospects with blunt questions.
Still, BANT remains a proven method for identifying and prioritizing high-quality prospects. However, if you are not convinced, you can supplement or even replace it by other approaches such as Sandler or Meddic sales methodologies.
Overall, using BANT in your sales processes is rather easy considering that your sales teams
only have 4 well-defined criteria to work on. Even though it works exactly like a checklist, the
hardest part of the implementation is inquiring subtly enough so that it doesn’t feel like a
thorough examination. This is where knowing conversational sales techniques may come in
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