If you’ve been in tune with the sales world long enough, the acronym BANT probably sounds pretty familiar. But that might not be the case to someone who came up on the marketing side of things, especially not in the last few years. In fact, it’s become a bit of an antiquated practice even in the sales world. It’s not broken, though, it just needs some adjustment for the modern B2B world. So, what is BANT?
Developed by IBM way back in the day, BANT is a sales qualification methodology that allows salespeople to determine whether a prospect is a good fit, based on a few different factors. The acronym stands for:
Budget: How much is the prospect willing to spend?
Authority: Does this prospect have decision-making power?
Need: Does this prospect have a problem you can solve?
Timing: Is there urgency?
What’s wrong with BANT?
There’s nothing wrong with BANT as a concept, per se. However, HubSpot points out that the way salespeople tend to use it can rub potential buyers the wrong way. This is especially true in these modern days of inbound marketing when potential customers are typically already heading through the buyers’ journey before even catching the attention of sales.
The fault in how BANT tends to be executed lies in using it as a checklist. Rattling off a bunch of questions to a potential buyer is a surefire way to seem pushy and put people off of anything that you’re selling. Getting all of these basic questions out of the way when talking to a new prospect might seem like an efficient method, but it tends to come off as an interrogation.
The thing about BANT is that you don’t need to rush through it or find out these answers in any particular order. You can use BANT, or TANB, or NABT, or any other combination of those four letters … BANT is just the only pronounceable order.
How BANT can be outdated in B2B
Have you tried the old-timey way of using this method and nixed a prospect right up front because they couldn’t afford you? Well, that’s your first mistake.
Most B2B products use a subscription model. If everything else qualifies this prospect as a good match for your company, there’s probably some workaround you can use to fit into their budget. That could mean offering a free month for a quarterly subscription or giving them the option to pay by the month even if you typically charge once per year.
Some potential buyers also have a looser budget than they might initially let on. Their budget might be based on the value they believe your service should bring—so your job might be to prove to them that your product or service is worth investing in. Don’t take their budget as a definitive way to eliminate them from your prospect list.
It’s also important to note that most businesses that have a group of decision-makers for any significant investment that eats into the budget. This antiquates the idea that you can talk to the decision-maker and just convince him or her that your product or service is worth purchasing.
While there is undoubtedly a place for a modernized form of BANT in your sales qualification practice, Act-On suggests adding a few other factors into the mix as well, such as:
- Buyer personas: While budget, authority, need, and timing should play a part in your prospecting, you should also determine whether these prospects align with your buyer personas. Make your buyer personas your jumping-off point before launching into BANT.
- Demographics & firmographics: Look beyond the basic demographics like location and company size. What are the company’s pain points? How can your product address them?
- Behavioral data: What’s the point of tracking the activity on your website if you’re not taking that info and applying it to your sales prospects? Take data like downloads and responses to email offers and your webinar attendance and consider it a first step to qualifying a lead, before even taking BANT into account.
- Your sales and customer success teams: Surprise! We’re advocating once again for collaboration between your sales and marketing teams. Your sales team is the one having regular conversations with your prospects—so they’re most likely to have insight on aspects like how strict their budget is or how your product can address their needs.
BANT in 2020
We might love having unlimited options when it comes to where to spend our money, but we need to remember that our sales prospects also have that luxury. The fact of the matter is, no matter which problem of theirs your product or service can solve, there’s another B2B company out there that also can.
It’s more important than ever, in this age of disconnection, that you ensure your prospects don’t think that you see them solely as a prospect. “Subtle conversation is how you’ll get the information you need–without scaring off the prospect,” says UpLead. “It’s preferable BANT is implemented as the second step in your sales process, right after initial contact.”