What the Heck is BANT? How Does it Help Sales?
BANT stands for budget, authority, need, and time frame. In a nutshell it’s an acronym used too describe four key elements every potential customer needs to have before they can buy your product. If the key buying factors are not present you will have a hard time closing a sale.
Bant was invented in the 1950’s by IBM, and they still use it today.Its primary goal was to assist sales people in qualifying their leads, so as to have a more efficient sales process.
BANT is a Lead Qualification Process
If you know anything about marketers and sales folk, you will know that they love a few things perhaps a little too much, such as acronyms and mnemonic devices. So when it comes time to teach a fresh sales person how to properly qualify a lead before wasting their time with them, BANT is a very welcome friend. Lead qualification is an essential component of any lead management strategy.
What is a Lead Qualification?
It may sound fancy but lead qualification is as simple as it gets. It’s the process of finding out if a lead is worth your time, if they’re even a lead, or just somebody who clicked on some website advertisement and needs to be ignored.
Why is Lead Qualification Necessary?
When you’re a salesperson, time is literally your most valuable asset. You can’t get back an hour or two that’s wasted on a bad lead. Let’s say, for example, that the average sales call takes five hours and it turns out the potential customer doesn’t have the Budget for your product or service. Feels a lot like a waste of time right?
Likewise, not having the authority to purchase means you will have a hard time closing the sale. Let’s take the example of someone from accounting questioning every detail on a quote from an inexperienced salesperson. Or someone saying that they need to go and ask their partner, their boss or whatever.
Worse yet, what if you get five hours in and realise they have no need or desire for what you’re selling? This is a lost cause and this can be avoided by asking the right questions before you get going.
Perhaps the most pernicious of them all, is the one who has the cash, has the need, but is stalling on timeline. Oh we definitely want to do this deal, but probably not this month. Or next month. You get the picture.
What Does BANT Stand For?
The BANT sales framework is as follows:
If you don’t know if they have the budget, or not, it is very important that you ask. This will provide them with the opportunity to either end your call in a more pleasant way, or to say yes and give you a chance to work towards earning their business.
There’s no need to be abrasive or abrupt. Just ask “Is this a good time to talk about the budget?” Once they say yes, then you can get the elephant out of the room, give them a chance to tap out, or to confirm that they are ready to talk turkey.
If they are not even prepared to discuss the budget, then you may immediately say that they are not a qualified lead.
Every sales process and team is going to approach budget conversations differently, the universal component however, is that all sales people eventually need to have this conversation.
Authority is the bane of every salesperson. Having your entire discussion with someone, who then needs to send it up the chain (in their own words, not yours) for approval, kills more deals than almost any other factor.
Knowing, and knowing early what their decision making hierarchy looks like will save a world of trouble, and can also guide you in how you prepare an nurture the opportunity.
A salesperson should understand the needs of their potential customers. If a salesperson does not understand the driving force of the customer’s journey then they will have a difficult time selling to them. The more clear you are of your prospects needs, the better you will be able to help them.
It is worth noting, that needs could just as easily be swapped out with ‘desires’. Not every product is needed, but people sure can desire that which they don’t need 😉
You should know when the prospect is looking to make a decision. This doesn’t mean they won’t buy before or after, it just means you want to understand when they need to be ready to proceed.
If they need to be ready in a week and you schedule calls for the following Tuesday then, well, maybe you should find another prospect 🙂
Many Sales Managers 'Bake' BANT into Their Sales Process
Many sales managers will take the BANT items and bake them into their sales process. This is what we do, but ultimately you need to find what works for your team.
Standard Format for All Sales Reps
I like to use these four questions as an opener for every sales call. What they do is provide me with a certain amount of information about my prospect, and they also give me the opportunity to speak to any issues that might be a deal killer.
I usually tell my sales reps that if at any time during our call we get to Budget and then they say “This is not a good time for me to talk about budget” or something similar I will then stop and proceed with a different approach.
Clear Steps for Qualifying a New Lead or Prospect
When you understand BANT, then it is easy to craft an approach for qualifying a lead. The more qualified leads you speak to then the better your sales will be. The more unqualified leads you speak with, then the less time you will have for speaking to the qualified ones.
Often Built into the CRM Software Being Used
When we are building out a CRM for a sales team, we will almost always include functions that help the sales person record whether the lead is qualified or not. This can be done manually or automatically. An ongoing topic of debate in many a roll out.
This can be as obvious and simple as having checkboxes for ‘yes I have discussed budget’ or as subtle as having field sets for the entry of the budget, or who the decision maker is etc.
Having structured data at the CRM level that can help you rapidly filter leads into buckets can dramatically improve your sales performance. Using BANT to help achieve this is an even better step again, because we end up with the ability to measure how qualified someone is.
Rather than the black and white of qualified vs unqualified, we now have partially qualified leads who are set on budget, set on needs, but in a waiting zone for the right timing.
Likewise, we can have sets of leads who have the need, want it now, and are just waiting on the budget to become available before they can begin.
Each of these subsets will allow your sales reps to prioritize their days to spend more time speaking to qualified prospects and less time trying to push a square peg into a round hole.
Most Sales Teams Use The BANT Sales Qualification Framework
The BANT Sales Qualification Framework is fairly widely known and used within the sales industry. Effective lead qualification has been one of those things that a lot of sales teams have struggled with for years. It is difficult to wade into sales culture and not find common ground with this simple acronym.
Modern Views on BANT
Being an older term, pre internet at that, many marketers and bloggers will take turns in seeing who can trash this veteran framework from yesteryear. Its cool and hip to say that we don’t need such an outdated acronym. That pigeonholing prospects by these four terms is a waste of time, or worse yet a potential killer of the bottom line.
In my opinion, BANT sales qualification framework is as useful today as it was in the past. The internet has made life so easy for would be “bant bakers” that they often forget what real world problems this approach solves.