What is BANT?
Definition and objectives
BANT is a sales qualification framework that enables salespeople to determine how good of a fit each prospect is based on their budget, authority to make a purchasing decision, need for the product or service, and purchase timeline.
It is a classic method of qualifying prospects for B2B sales, that was first introduced in the 1960s by IBM.
Sales reps can use the BANT sales framework to ask questions that enable them to filter prospects.
The definition of BANT and the questions you should be able to answer are as following:
- Budget: Can your prospect afford to buy your product or service?
- Authority: Who makes the final decision to buy in the organization?
- Need: Does the solution you propose meet a need of your prospect?
- Timeline: What is your prospect’s timeline for buying?
If a prospect presents positive responses to at least three of the criterias, then the sales team can consider the prospect qualified.
The goal of the framework is: gathering information, qualifying leads and narrowing the customer’s pain points. Sales reps should not just be asking prospects a series of scripted questions instead of providing value and having real conversations based on active listening.
Let’s dive deeper in the 4 dimensions of the BANT framework and see if they are still relevant in 2021.
Budget: How much would your prospect be willing to pay for your service?
Money can be a critical factor in a purchasing decision.
It is obvious that no matter what product or service is sold, its price must be compatible with the budget allocated for this type of purchase by your prospect.
Obviously, starting a sales meeting with the question of budget can be a delicate exercise: creating a bond of trust is therefore crucial!
You can investigate this topic through indirect questions:
- Today you have no solution for your problem, how much does it cost you?
- We have calculated that our solution could bring you X dollars per year, does this come close to your expectations?
- Have you already set up this type of service? What ROI did you get? For what cost?
Authority: Do you know the person who validates decisions?
Often in complex B2B sales, the purchasing decision involves many stakeholders.
Let’s take an example:
Your product is video editing software. You meet the community manager of company A, who is creating videos everyday to use on social media. You uncover that within company A, someone else has the authority to decide on such purchase: the chief marketing officer.
Your goal is therefore to track down all of the people who may have been impacted by your service or product.
Use these questions to help you:
- Who will use our product or service?
- Would you like to involve someone else in our next meeting?
In more complex organisations it could be useful to create account maps to track the decision maker(s). There are different tools for that, we are using Miro and we like it.
Need: What are your prospects' challenges?
Do you think you have a chance of selling to a company that does not need your service/product?
Sometimes prospects think they have identified a problem without having taken the time to think about a solution. Your role is to identify the problems and challenges of your prospects to fuel your sales pitch.
With the help of your questions, you should be able to investigate the concrete need of your prospect and adapt your speech accordingly:
- Tell me about this problem, how long have you been seeing it?
- What are your current plans to address the problem?
- What are your current business priorities?
- Do you think my solution X could help your company solve this problem?
Timeline: When is your prospect planning on making a decision?
The last component of BANT framework is Timeline!
Yes, you do know that your prospect has the budget, that he/she can make a decision whether or not to choose you and finally that the need is very real. But she cannot make a decision for eighteen months.
Of course you would not have the same strategy for a deal that can close next week compared to next year, that is why getting timeline information is so important to determine whether the prospect is cold, warm or hot.
Focus on hot leads that express a need for urgency. They should be your top priority!
The more you take a hot lead in hand, the more time it would take you to close the sale with the right sales approach such as: holding a meeting within the time limit and guiding the client in the decision.
Here are some questions that can guide this process:
- What upcoming events would you like to be equipped with our solution for?
- What is your goal for the next 6 months?
- Have you considered other solutions?
Use of BANT Sales Framework today
The BANT approach was widely used in the 1960s and continues to be a recognized business tool.
However, the advent of digital marketing, marketing automation and more generally the web has gone through it. It is therefore necessary to bring some nuances to this system.
Organizations change, so does selling
If the BANT Framework was a good way to standardize the lead qualification process in the 1960s, this is no longer necessarily the case today.
This method can be too blunt if not properly executed.
Can you picture yourself starting every sales meeting by saying “What is your budget?”.
It seems necessary to think of the methodology as a flexible framework rather than a list to be followed in a religious order. Start by assessing your lead’s need before talking about the budget.
In addition, prospects have access to a great deal of information on products and services they may need via internet research. Decision making and the act of buying are often the result of this research. By the time the sales team gets in touch with a prospect, the solutions may already have been studied and the decision partially already made.
To counter this, it is therefore imperative to offer a personalized customer experience, your goal must be to bring value to your prospect to help him solve his or her problem.
Finally, since the 2000s, companies with a shared management system have been appearing. Within them, each party is responsible and the decision-maker for the specific project. Decision-making no longer depends on hierarchy, but on a group of people.
In the case of questions of authority, it is therefore better to question how the purchasing decision will be made rather than by whom.
Digital tools to serve the BANT sales framework
Thus, a content marketing strategy coupled with targeted SEA will allow you to attract your prospects and push them to interact with your company either via a contact form on your website or on your social networks!
Generally speaking, you must be proactive in your commercial approach by giving free access to your expertise: access to your pages describing your services, publications on your blog, discussion forums, answers on your social networks.
Finally, if a prospect turns out not to be ready yet, why not support your work with a lead nurturing strategy?
Thanks to lead nurturing, you could offer your prospect various useful contents to support his buying process such as:
- A testimonial from a satisfied customer who expresses how much your product has saved him or her in the long term
- A personalized addressed case study for each member of his/her team
- White papers that illustrate the negative consequences of an organization that did not act quickly enough to choose your solution
BANT vs GPCT
The GPCT (Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline) is considered to be a modern version of BANT.
The GPCT method is sensed to be more focused on deeper understanding and long term solutions than a specific need at a specific point of time.
By asking your future clients questions about their goals, plans, challenges and finally their timeline, you are more likely to bring them value.
Does GPCT Methodology replace the BANT Framework?
The BANT framework has fallen out of favour recently, because it is not up to date and does not hit the mark when salespeople use it like a checklist.
Since the technological revolution the prospect has become smarter and much more informed.
This allows businesses to move forward faster than ever. Meanwhile, it is more difficult for the sales reps to have control over the decision making process of their prospects.
The chances of closing the sale are greater by focusing on how to help your prospects achieve their goals.
B2B Sales are hard and they take a lot of time. That is why sales managers must enable their salespeople by streamlining sales processes and providing clear sales methodologies that get results.
However, the BANT Framework does enable sales teams to focus on the best leads that can become top priorities. These leads have the appropriate authority, need and timeline to purchase the product or services they are selling.
From lead generation to closing, we know that the Buyer’s Journey is an intense Odyssey. Equipping your sales teams with tools and frameworks like BANT, GPCT, MEDDIC or SPIN ensure that they can affect the customer’s decision making process.
As you can see, BANT is an effective way to focus your efforts on prospects who are really ready to buy.
Nevertheless, never lose sight of the fact that in a digitalized context, where content is king, your brand message must be carefully crafted and considered as a tool for prospecting!