Sales persons used to probe each prospect about:
- Their budget
- The person signing the deal
- The potential deal close date, and
- A brief understanding of the prospect’s needs
It is a popular type of lead qualification with a rich history starting off as the brainchild of the people over at IBM, and it has grown in popularity because of its simplicity.
The BANT sales methodology is a tool for sales professionals to qualify leads and determine whether they are worth pursuing as potential customers. By asking about a prospect’s budget, authority, need, and timeline, sales professionals can tailor their pitch to the prospect’s specific needs and increase their chances of making a successful sale.
However, those questions, when used as a checklist, weren’t enough to encourage a meaningful dialogue, nor did they develop a relationship between prospect and sales person. It’s seller-centric and tends to discard leads for the sake of high efficiency. In short, BANT sales qualification can be a one-way interrogation that left both parties feeling unfulfilled.
The first component of BANT is Budget. This refers to the amount of money a prospect has allocated for the purchase of a product or service. Without a budget, it is unlikely that a prospect will be able to make a purchase, no matter how much they may need or want the product. Sales professionals must determine whether a prospect has a budget and whether it is sufficient to cover the cost of the product or service being offered.
For example, let’s say you are a salesperson selling software to small businesses. Your prospect is a startup that has just secured funding and is looking to invest in new technology. When you ask about their budget, they tell you they have set aside $10,000 for software purchases. Based on this information, you can determine whether your software fits within their budget and whether it is worth pursuing the sale.
More often than not, one of the greatest obstacles to a prospect purchasing from you is their ability to pay. This is why BANT attempts to tackle this issue first before moving on to the rest of the qualification questions.
The second component of BANT is Authority. This refers to the person or group of people who have the power to make purchasing decisions within an organization. Getting the solution in front of the right person is another important part of BANT’s lead qualification methodology. It is important for sales professionals to identify the decision-makers early in the sales process so they can tailor their pitch accordingly.
For example, let’s say you are a salesperson selling a new HR software system to a mid-sized company. You have been speaking with the HR manager, but you suspect that the final decision will be made by the CEO. You ask the HR manager who will ultimately make the purchasing decision, and they tell you it will be the CEO. Armed with this information, you can make sure that your pitch addresses the CEO’s concerns and highlights the benefits of the software from their perspective.
Lead generation teams should make sure that they are targeting people who can make the decision to purchase from their organization. However, this shouldn’t be mistaken as just looking for the DMU (decision-making unit), marketers can also target people who help the authority make the decision.
The third component of BANT is Need. This refers to their current (or future) need for the solution that you are selling. This also refers to the prospect’s requirement for the product or service being offered. Sales professionals must determine whether a prospect has a genuine need for their product and whether it will provide value to their organization. The prospect needs to need the solution, or else the entire process is a waste.
For example, let’s say you are a salesperson selling a cybersecurity solution to a mid-sized law firm. When you ask about their current cybersecurity measures, they tell you that they don’t have any because they don’t think they are at risk. You can then explain the risks associated with cyber attacks and the potential consequences for their business. By demonstrating the need for your product, you can increase the prospect’s interest in making a purchase.
When qualifying based on needs, make sure you consider what problems, bottlenecks, or roadblocks they are currently facing. Also, take into account if they are considering other alternate solutions that other a substitute for what you’re providing.
Be aware of what the competition can offer them so that you can leverage your USP. You can do this via a sales discovery or triage call, but to make sure you make the most out of your questions in this phase, make sure you know enough about the company.
The fourth component of BANT is Timeline. This refers to the priorities that your prospect has and the prospect’s timeframe for making a purchasing decision. Sales professionals must determine whether a prospect is ready to make a purchase now or whether they are still in the research or consideration stage.
For example, let’s say you are a salesperson selling a marketing automation platform to a marketing agency. When you ask about their timeline for making a decision, they tell you that they are in the early stages of researching different options and won’t be making a decision for at least six months. Armed with this information, you can adjust your approach and focus on building a relationship with the prospect over time, rather than pushing for a quick sale.
- Are they looking to solve the problem, possibly with your solution, in the near future?
- Does this time frame align with your own organization’s selling goals?
- Is this solution a priority?
By figuring out priorities and timing, you know how to position your organization or determine if the prospect can be considered to be a colder lead that should be dealt with at a later time.
Selling Office Furniture
A salesperson is selling office furniture to a small business owner. They ask the prospect about their budget, and the prospect tells them they have set aside $5,000 for furniture purchases. The salesperson then asks about the decision- makers and is told that the owner of the business is the one who makes all purchasing decisions. The salesperson then asks about the prospect’s needs and learns that they are looking for ergonomic chairs and standing desks to improve employee comfort and productivity. Finally, the salesperson asks about the prospect’s timeline and is told that they are hoping to make the purchases within the next month. Armed with this information, the salesperson can tailor their pitch to highlight the ergonomic benefits of their products and offer a package deal within the prospect’s budget.
Selling Marketing Services
A salesperson is selling marketing services to a mid-sized company. They ask about the prospect’s budget and are told that they have allocated $50,000 for marketing services. The salesperson then asks about the decision makers and learns that the Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Executive Officer will both be involved in the decision. The salesperson asks about the prospect’s needs and learns that they are looking to increase brand awareness and generate leads. Finally, the salesperson asks about the prospect’s timeline and is told that they are hoping to have a new marketing strategy in place within the next three months. Armed with this information, the salesperson can tailor their pitch to highlight the results they have achieved for similar companies, and present a customized plan that fits within the prospect’s budget and timeline.
Selling Cloud Computing Services
A salesperson is selling cloud computing services to a large enterprise. They ask about the prospect’s budget and are told that they have a flexible budget but want to make sure they are getting good value for their money. The salesperson then asks about the decision makers and learns that a team of executives and IT professionals will be involved in the decision. The salesperson asks about the prospect’s needs and learns that they are looking to move their IT infrastructure to the cloud to improve scalability and reduce costs. Finally, the salesperson asks about the prospect’s timeline and is told that they are hoping to make a decision within the next six months. Armed with this information, the salesperson can tailor their pitch to highlight the scalability and cost-saving benefits of their cloud computing services, and offer a customized solution that meets the prospect’s specific needs.