Why BANT isn’t Dead but Evolving

Sales qualifications hasn’t mattered more than in a post-pandemic world. Attracting leads after Covid-19 impact could involve preparing crisis battlecards, negotiating contracts, creating sales playbooks and improving sales engagement. As the shock settles in, sales leaders should prepare their teams for five most likely conversations they can hold with prospects. This is where BANT and having an optimized sales funnel play a huge role.

Sales Funnel and Qualification Process

A sales funnel is one of the key sales qualification techniques to track the journey customers undertake to make a purchase. At the start of the process, the numbers involved are much broader and as the funnel narrows the prospects that pass through become much narrower. 

The term ‘funnel’ is used because at the start or top of the process the numbers involved are much broader, and as the funnel narrows the prospects that pass through becomes much narrower. 

The key stages and terms used to describe them often differ a bit, but the major stages can be described as: 

  1. Lead generation 
  2. Lead qualification 
  3. Initial or first meeting 
  4. Close 
  5. Retention and referrals 

A well-structured and optimized sales funnel is crucial in ensuring that a company’s limited resources are best utilized for realizing its sales objectives. For the company’s salespeople, this includes techniques that can be utilized to help them provide solutions effectively to customers throughout the sales funnel. 

So what exactly is BANT, and how does it fit into the sales funnel process? Read more to find out.

What is BANT?

BANT is one of the most well known and utilized sales qualification techniques. It has also been commonly referred to as a sales qualification process or framework. So it typically fits into the second main stage of the sales funnel described above, which is known as lead qualification

Why is lead qualification important? Well, although it’d be great if every single person on earth could be a potential customer but the reality is that not everyone needs your products and services. Further, even if they do need what you’re offering,  they may not fit still as they may not be able to afford it or not benefit from the product in the next decade. So this is where lead qualification and sales qualification techniques like BANT fits in. That is, it helps determine the right customer-to-business fit.

What are some of the BANT Questions you should ask yourself?

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Defining BANT

BANT is an acronym that describes a sales qualification technique in which salespeople assess a client’s ability to purchase based on four criteria: 

BANT

  1. Budget: How much is the prospect able and willing to spend? Some customers may simply be unable to afford your product. For example, if you’re selling a luxury product this may be particularly important. In the B2B environment, the company may have a specific budget planned.
  2. Authority: Who has the ultimate authority to buy or is the key decision-maker? In B2C environments, this could simply be who in the household will have the final say. In B2B environments, there could be multiple final sign-offs involved.
  3. Need: Does the prospect have a problem we can solve or how does our solution enhance their business? Obviously this one is critical in communicating and making the customer aware of the benefits your solution can bring about for the customer’s business. Likewise, through this process of understanding the customer’s challenges you can really flesh out a lot of detail to show how your product or service can truly help the customer. After all, it’s a two-way street!
  4. Timeline: In what timeframe do they need the solution? This is all about establishing urgency. You may ask your customer, ‘how soon do you want this problem resolved?’ Your solution may enable other parts of the business’ strategy to be successful sooner, or in the B2C space, it might for example improve their lifestyle! Often changing tact by also focusing discussions and questions on what if the customer doesn’t fix the problem can help your customer get an understanding of their own urgency. This can include expenses associated with not fixing the problem. Or, for example, what else they could have been doing or achieved if the problem was solved sooner.

BANT and Talk of its Demise… 

Although, over many years there has been talk of BANT’s demise, often by people putting forward other sales qualification processes, BANT is far from dead. Sure, if you expect to use BANT in the exact way salespeople at IBM in the 1960s were expected to, then there’s a good chance that it may not work. However, like most good frameworks, BANT has evolved and you can still utilize it effectively. 

It simply comes down to how you conceptualize and apply it to the modern business environment. In fact, BANT can benefit not only the sales qualification process but also its underlying ideology can help optimize your entire sales funnel. 

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Applying BANT today 

BANT is both straightforward and fairly easy to execute. It can be just as effective in very large sales teams of thousands to small businesses. This is where the beauty lies as it can be executed by seasoned sales professionals or junior hires with little sales experience quickly to enable reliable sales qualification.

Here’s some key pointers about applying BANT qualification method in today’s environment:

1) Don’t be too rigid

As mentioned, the point isn’t in applying BANT too strictly, and for example, it’s not the order of the letters that matters. Rather, the key is in implementing its underlying ideology to your customers and business. 

2) Understand the customer’s issues and environment

Have an understanding of your customer’s biggest issues and current environment. For example, they may be undertaking a large digital transformation to improve customer service. You might point out how your software or service can enable that transformation quicker by removing a current roadblock. So understand where you fit in in the big picture even if you’re just one small piece of solving the puzzle. 

BANT Example

this time in a B2C environment, I qualify my prospects by asking them if they want to spark more creativity in their photography? Or similarly, asking them if they are lacking creative inspiration in their photography.

In case you’re wondering, I own a niche photography accessory which makes photography more creative so this is just one example of how I apply BANT to show my understanding of my customers’ issues. As demonstrated, truly conceptualizing and applying BANT to your business and clients’ circumstances can improve all your marketing efforts and not simply the sales qualification process. 

To extend my own business example further and show BANT ideology’s usefulness to various marketing efforts – in my ad copy I’ve asked prospects if they could stand another summer of taking the same old photography! 

3) Be subtle 

Particularly in a B2B setting, it’s important to know how to weave questions that seem natural but still enable successful qualification using BANT. After all, you don’t want to be abruptly asking where sign-off will come from to start a conversation with a client or that would seem off-putting and forceful to them, to say the least! You’d probably be finding out about their problems or challenges first (N) for example and assessing urgency (T) before later moving onto other areas. 

4) Support effective sales qualification with a great sales ecosystem 

Sales activities are always dependent and co-exist with a myriad of other tools and processes that make up an optimized sales funnel. One aspect is only as strong as the other interconnecting parts so ensure that you have the most suitable software that can help track your business’ performance. 

The take-away 

BANT is here to stay! Rumors of any demise are certainly over-exaggerated. As shown, BANT is just as effective today as it was since its conception. However the way we conceptualize and apply it must suit the modern environment. So think about how you can implement BANT whether it be to your qualification process or other aspects of your marketing.

 

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Simon Choi has a background in marketing and change management in consulting firms and financial services in Australia. He distributes the Lensball in Australia and has recently founded Standout Bands, a third-party Apple Watch Bands retailer. He writes about business and lives in Melbourne, Australia.