There are several crucial factors that can help transform your relationship with your clients from potential to actual. For example, timing; connecting too early means that your lead is not ready to make the purchase. On the other hand, waiting it out for too long would result in your lead moving on to your competitor. Hence, it is essential to qualify your prospects to understand where they stand in the buying process.
Several models define and outline various processes like asking questions, collecting feedback, and building customer relationships to effectively qualify your lead. The BANT sales methodology is one such mechanism to qualify your leads while also eliminating wastefulness.
Here, we will discuss everything you need to know about the BANT sales process and how you can use it to detect BANT qualified leads.
What is the BANT Sales Framework?
BANT is a sales technique that allows salespersons to identify whether a lead or a prospect is a good fit for the organization. BANT is an acronym for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing and relies on these factors to qualify leads. It involves asking relevant questions related to the budgeting, ability to buy, internal influence, need for the product, and the timeline for purchase.
BANT Sales Process: Core Four Aspects
For any salesperson not well-versed with BANT, the terms budget, authority, need, and timing may appear like random words. Thus, to simplify your understanding of BANT, let us further explore the primary terminologies that form the pillars of the BANT sales technique and how they dictate the usage of BANT in lead qualification.
Budget: The value placed by the prospect on your service
A prospect set their budget based on multiple considerations. For some, it could be the valuation that they have arrived upon their personal estimation, while others may reach a figure on contacting your competitors. Sometimes, having no budget could mean that the prospect values the service over the budget. However, the same could also indicate their non-seriousness as a buyer.
Hence, asking non-intrusive, tactful questions related to your prospect’s budget could give you an insight into what they seek and what you offer at a set cost. Prospects can still be won over if they hover around the cost of your services, but if it is not a match entirely, it is best to seek other leads.
Authority: Identifying the key decision-makers
Sometimes, your salesperson may directly contact the decision-making authority, while most times, they may start at the bottom of the rung and will have to work their way upwards the chain of command. BANT questions allow you to get an idea of who gets to have the final say while making the decision. Naturally, simply because your contact is not the decision-making authority doesn’t mean that you completely stop interacting with them!
In addition to understanding the key advocates and champions that play a vital role in making decisions, it helps in understanding the decision-making process. Such information can help the salesperson make better use of strategies and tactics that support the sales effort. Knowing when to say what and to whom could govern how well you can tip the scales in your favor.
Need: Discovering the need for your product as a solution
The alignment between the challenges faced and pain points experienced by your prospects with the effectiveness of your product as a solution decides the need for your offering. Hence, it is essential that you deeply explore the need, as stated by the prospect, and take the time to analyze and understand them.
Once you, as a salesperson, have discussed the pain points and identified the challenges face by the prospects, you will have an idea on how to position your services as a solution to these issues. Upon understanding the needs of the prospects, you can not only qualify the prospect, but you can also hold a strategic position that allows you to pitch your product and close the sales effectively.
Timing: Timeline of when the prospect plans on rolling out the solution
Sometimes, you may come across a scenario where a prospect is a perfect fit. Your product is in line with the solutions they seek, you are on good terms with the approving authorities, and the budget has been worked out. However, the timing is a bit off. A short timeline may make it hard for your organization to honor the prospect’s request, while a deadline that is too far off may give the appearance that the prospect doesn’t identify your product or the process as a priority.
Therefore, it is vital to set clear expectations from either party in terms of timelines. Upon knowing a feasible timeline, you can work towards gathering and allocating resources as the sale finalizes. These actions allow seamless transition from sales to delivery of your product, which enhances customer satisfaction. Hence, the timeline also features as a pivotal factor while qualifying prospects.
Typically, the BANT sales methodology is used as a second step in the sales process. Leading through subtle, yet open-ended questions can help you land BANT-Qualified leads without wasting your time, resources, and efforts on chasing dead ends. BANT qualifies leads on the basis of your offerings and the prospect’s requirements depending on four decisive factors.
Best BANT Leads Qualifying Questions
Now that you have a more solid understanding of the factors necessary for BANT qualification, we can now discuss the questions that can get your the required responses without scaring off the prospects.
Here is a list of BANT leads qualifying questions to get more from your interactions:
B: Budget Questions
You will find it easier to quote according to the prospect’s budget parameters once you understand their value-based system. At the end of the day, it is all about the money and finding that synergy in terms of finances can help realize the sales faster. About 60% of prospects wish to discuss finances on their first sales call.
Rather than bluntly asking, “What’s your budget?” here are some better alternatives:
- What has your expense sheet been like for the previous spending on this/similar solution?
The amount previously spent on the solution gives you an idea of the sum that the prospect is already willing to spend. Depending on this marking, you can determine where your pricing stands accordingly. Accordingly, you can justify the costing of your solution as per the client’s range.
- Do you have a set budget allocated for the specific solution?
Generally, a prospect that has the budget in place appears more sincere and is easier to work with. Someone who has not allocated a budget for your solution is either not serious or assigns a low priority to the task. Hence, knowing that they have a budget adds tangibility to your interactions.
- How much are you currently spending on other solutions?
This question explores the current financial situation of the prospect. Even though the previous question will give you an idea of their spending history, it is essential to assess the current situation as circumstances are bound to change. The budget may have shrunk or expanded due to various reasons. If there has been a change in their budgeting, you can ask questions about the same.
- Have you ever had to invest in a solution beyond the scope of your budget? If yes, how did the budget allocation take place?
This question is a window into the flexibility in the budget. It cites how the prospect may have flexed their budget in previous instances and allows you to evaluate how your solution stands to such a test. If the budget has increased in the past, it is a possibility that it may do so again. In addition to sharing information on how such budget-related requests are handled, it also outlines the process that is followed in realizing such requests.
A: Authority Questions
Pitching to the decision-makers can not only simplify targeting but also increase your accuracy during the outreach. Once you know your audience, you will find it easier to research, pick the right tone of voice, and locate pain points effortlessly.
Instead of asking, “Who makes the decisions here?” try these:
- What is your contribution to the decision-making process?
Your point of contact may seem enthusiastic about your product and may seem eager to get you on board. However, it is the decision-makers who ultimately make the final call. Hence, knowing who you are interacting with can help you qualify your lead and help you make your way towards those who matter.
- When was the last time you bought a similar solution? Who were the stakeholders involved in the decision-making process?
Knowing about a similar process carried out previously will give an approximate timeline for the decision-making process. It is also worth noting that larger organizations have a board of decision-makers (with an average of 6.8 people involved in decision-making), making it essential to know the key stakeholders present in the buying team and winning them over with your solution. Eventually, even in a B2B environment, you are selling to individuals, so it is best to start by knowing your audience.
- What are the top priorities in the evaluation process?
While knowing the decision-makers is important, it is also important to understand how companies reach this decision. Through this question, your internal champion can shed light on the various parameters that form the basis of the assessment of your product. A summary of the evaluation process helps you understand the qualities that will attract or repel the decision-makers.
Once you understand how your product will be judged, you can clearly outline what your solution can or cannot achieve. As a result, there will be fewer mistakes and surprises at both ends.
- Who will be using our product/solution/service?
This question gains importance as you approach large companies. Even though you may have a select few who make the decision regarding your product, the end-users are bound to be heavily involved in the decision-making process. Several companies hold meetings with such end-users and concerned departments to collect their opinion on your product. Hence, knowing the end-user will allow you to pitch your product as an apt solution to their pain points.
N: Need Questions
Pitching to someone who does not need your solution will result in a futile exercise. A good salesperson is capable of gauging how desperate the prospect is to land the solution. However, the exploration of needs has to be carried out tactfully as these questions can be met with generic, non-informative responses. Here are a few questions that you can try to substantial information on the need for your solution:
- How did you get to know about us?
This question is hands down the most enlightening question in sales. It singularly captures the journey of the problems faced by the clients, the possible solutions that they sought, and what truly gravitated them towards you, as a solution to these woes. It is also a subtle reminder to the organization regarding why they are interacting with you. This question clearly defines their needs, which will allow you to tailor the conversation around the prospect’s narrative in order to keep them engaged and to present your product as the ultimate solution.
- What are the top challenges, pain points, and problems that you are currently facing and are eager to solve?
Despite all the bells and whistles that come with your product, companies will not care much about it until it can serve its primary purpose of addressing their specific pain points. Therefore, if you wish to project your product as an effective solution, you need first to understand their pain points, problems, and challenges. Given that the B2B environment is a cumulation of company-, department-, and individual-level issues, you can explore these individually or as a whole, find out their possible solutions, and correlate how your product fits into this solution.
- What other solutions/vendors have you employed in the past? What were the major limitations or challenges while working with them?
Such a question will highlight the strategy that the company has already tried out while addressing a pain point. It may even be a possibility that the company attempted to sort out the issue internally but failed to achieve the desired result. Hence, it recapitulates the story so far and also allows you to gauge where your product stands as a solution to these pain points that were untouched in the previous exercises. If you fail to see any distinguishing quality or feature in your product or service as compared to the already tried and tested techniques, you may be chasing a dead lead.
Additionally, understanding the major problems faced by the prospect while working with the previous vendor lays the roadmap of effective collaborative channels that can eliminate the recurrence of such limitations. Further, it sets their expectations from their partnership with your company. You can adjudge whether your company’s business processes and outputs can seamlessly accommodate these requests outlined by the prospect.
- What kind of solutions are you currently evaluating? How do you think they will benefit your organization?
Asking your prospects leading questions regarding the kind of results that they wish to see will help you dig deeper into what they envision as the perfect solution for their pain points. It saves you time as equipped with this knowledge you can now customize your pitch in accordance with these solutions.
The narration of benefits granted by the solution will tie positive emotions to the overcoming of challenges, and by extension, to your product. Consequently, the prospect will bear a certain amount of excitement in using your offering as it poses as a solution that will help them achieve these benefits.
T: Timing Questions
Much like in life, timing is everything when it comes to sales. Prospects that have a more urgent need will be more qualified as they will be keen on solving the problem. A prospect that is to make the decision in the future may possibly forget about your product and move on.
Here are a few questions that will help you land the perfect timing:
- Is there a timeframe that you wish to follow while kicking off the project?
This question addresses two main points - the urgency with which prospect seeks the solution and the timeline that needs to be followed during its implementation. If a response to this question is met with a clear timeline or a finalization date, it is a good indication that the prospect requires your solution and is worth spending your time and energy.
If your lead is not looking to buy for about a year, you can focus on nurturing the prospect at a later time. However, a prospect with more pressing deadlines calls for aggressive promotion.
- Given your timeline, we may have to finalize our agreement by [a certain date]. Do you think it is possible?
While you do have your commitments to make, they should be within the realms of reasonability. Feel free to discuss the timeframe as per the time required by your organization to fully implement the solution. Clearly stating a date to finalize the agreement will also reduce the latency introduced by the decision-making process. Further, negotiating on the date will set a clear timeframe that both parties have to honor.
How to Apply the BANT Sales Methodology in Your Business?
While the BANT sales process may seem like an ideal technique for qualifying your leads, the salesperson must refrain from following a rigid script. In fact, the failure to use BANT as an effective tool stems from the fact that salespeople use it as a memorized checklist to ask scripted questions without truly listening to the client or adding value to the conversation.
In order to apply the BANT sales technique in the most efficient manner, one needs to accept it as an adaptable concept for qualifying leads rather than following it as a strict to-do list that they must memorize by rote.
While all four features of BANT need to be explored, the approach changes as per the direction in which the conversation goes. You can adopt the BANT sales methodology in your business model by:
- Interchanging the questions as per the interaction, while also covering all four pillars
- Empathizing with the prospect regarding their needs and pain points
- Showing an interest in knowing more about the prospect
- Exploring and gathering all the relevant information that can help with your pitch
- Adapting the BANT sales process and customizing as per the prevailing conditions
Asking the right questions will open doorways for discovering the right customers.
BANT follows a logical set of steps that gently implores the prospect to open up and tell you when they are ready to make the purchase. Thus, with the help of BANT, you can stop making guesses and eliminate the prospects that don’t qualify as potential buyers. Clearly, the use of BANT sales methodology saves you time while also scoring qualified prospects for your pipeline. As a salesperson, you can assign priorities for pursuing the prospects after getting an idea with regards to their needs, decision-making process, timelines, and budget.
The fact that BANT has survived through the years is a testament to its effectiveness when used correctly. However, do not be afraid to mix it up a little as you explore your options, adapt according to situations, and target the prospects that are the best fits for your business model.