What is BANT?
In terms of sales qualification, BANT stands for:
B = Budget
A = Authority
N = Need
T = Timing
Initially designed by IBM, BANT is a set of sales qualification questions and has been around a long time, used my many high performing sales functions to give them clarity at every step in the sales process.
BANT sales qualification is so highly regarded and well used because it’s a key tool in helping busy sales teams to:
- Prioritise their time
- Double down on their efforts where it will make a difference
- Focus their attention
- Employ their best resources.
Use it well and you’ll see an increase in
- Sales lead conversions
- Client acquisition costs
- Cash flow
- Staff motivation and confidence
- Plus a huge improvement in the quality of your sales pipeline and sales forecast.
Ignore it and you’ll be carrying a sales pipeline that’s held together by hopes and prayers, and is more fiction than fact. You’ll miss critical opportunities and, worse still, you’ll never be on top of your ssles forecasting.
When You BANT Sales Prospects You Win Every Time!
And that’s not all…using BANT sales qualification questions unblock all of the major sales blockers for you and your team.
This article is specifically for you if you are working in sales and suffering from one or more of the following challenges:
- Your prospects are happy to talk with you until you have all the information, and then, they disappear and you spend weeks chasing them, eventually closing the record as ‘missing in action’ or you might call it ‘closed-lost’
- You’re never really quite sure where you stand with the prospect – who seems to be onside and ready to move – and them for no obvious reason, just stalls and drifts away on to more important projects
- You struggle to progress sales, to gain commitment and buy in as the sales process plays out, and you find this makes it tough for you to close.
If you recognise yourself in any of these then it could be your sales qualification process then needs a tune up…so you’ve come to the right place!
BANT is covered in almost every article on how to qualify and close good quality sales, sales appointments, demonstrations, meetings.
For those that haven’t come across it before here’s the basic premise of BANT explored in more detail, plus additional insights into why BANT is not always enough and why you might choose to dig a little deeper to guarantee your sales success.
Before you read on – BANT as a sales tool is a very blunt instrument.
Use it brashly and without care and your sales efforts will get you rejected 10/10 times.
Instead – used with skill and grace – it can be a very powerful tool, saving you days of wasted effort and help you massively out-perform sales people who don’t employ BANT.
So, proceed with care!
BANT Sales Qualification Questions | Using BANT to Classify Buyer Stages and Grade Prospects
The person you’re engaging in the sales process needs to be qualified so you, the sales person, can understand a number of really critical issues that will help you get the best possible result from your interaction…
BANT sales qualification questions will help you do this…
Now, that best possible result in the very early stages may be as simple as deciding if it’s worth your time engaging with this prospect versus concluding that this is a prospect who is not really a fit for what you offer.
We can all agree that this is a good start not least because
Not all sales leads and sales prospects are of equal value, and to treat every lead and prospect as if they were pure gold and worthy of the same sales investment would be a fast track to sales hell!
So, using BANT questions and working out if a lead/prospect is go/no go is task number one…and you can do this using BANT.
Firstly, we’ll look at what BANT is and then look at how you can use it to your sales advantage to build low resistance, high value BANT questions
BANT Sales Qualification | What is the meaning of BANT?
BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need, Timing….and is a very basic way for you to establish who you are dealing with…
Unpacked here in more detail, there are some of the questions you’ll need answers to as you progress through the initial sales call, and again as new parties join the sales process…
BANT Sales Qualification Questions
Typical BANT questions fall into the following 4 groupings.
Note these questions are in ‘blunt-speak’ and the more conversational you make these questions, the better it will be.
Also, check WHEN you ask these questions – asked at the wrong time and you’re in a sales cul-de-sac.
Here you go
- Are they the budget holder?
- Is the budget available for this purchase providing the solution satisfied the need?
- If not, what are the criteria you need to fulfil in order go access the budget?
- Had the budget already been signed off?
- When will the budget be signed off?
- Do you have a guide budget to work to?
- What’s that based on?
- How flexible is it?
So, budget is, as you’d expect, all about the money and the decision making around the money
- Does this person have the authority to make the decision to buy?
- Are they a referrer, or person of influence?
- What is the prospects buying process like?
- Who is involved?
- Who holds the power?
- Who can veto?
- Are there any strong influencers / user groups or advocates?
- Are all the power wielding parties in agreement about the scope of their problem and the need to change / buy?
- Are there any pre-existing loyalties or relationships that exist that could cobble your chances of getting your solution and offer pushed through?
- Do purchases of this nature typically get signed off?
Authority is understanding who is the decision maker, who else is involved in the buying process and how much power do each of those players have…
In larger sales opportunities or sales with longer durations, then stakeholder management can be a critical part of the sales success.
Having key influencers on side who ca champion your solution is critical, as is knowing when your contact hasn’t got the support or confidence of the power base to act
- Is there a need for what you are selling?
- Is the prospect on a burning platform and in grave danger unless they get your fix or is it just an occasional gripe of a problem the need to sort?
- Are you satisfying a need that’s replacing or up-grading from an incumbent or is this a new requirement?
- How has this need come about?
- Who is involved in specifying that need and what perspective and power do they have?
- How critical/urgent is this need?
- Are there any substitute or work around solutions available to them?
- How aware are they of these?
- Has this need been sufficiently quantified as being big enough to justify an investment?
- What will happen if they don’t go ahead with your solution?
- What will happen if they go ahead with another solution provider?
- Has the timing been agreed?
- Does the timing have to dovetail with other projects and deliver-ables?
- Is this purchase reliant on any other critical events happening around it?
- Is everyone in agreement on the timing?
- Is there a ‘work-backwards plan, in place so everyone knows critical milestones?
- Is there anything that could derail this date?
- What factors around timing need to be considered?
- Providing the solution is suitable to satisfy the need, has the sign date been agreed?
- Is this a critical purchase with a time sensitive date?
BANT Sales Qualification is Not
Please don’t be this sales rep….
Hi Mr Prospect…
You need this don’t you?
Can you afford this?
When do you want it delivering?
Do I need to speak to your boss or can you sign off on this?
You might think I am joking…I am not.
Take the time to get conversational with your prospect and this information may even leak out without you needing to ask!
If you need help with this, come and join us on The Sales Improvement Workshop – we cover all of this and so much more. Check out the link for details
BEWARE: Using Sales BANT
Using BANT like a shotgun and firing off very direct and pointed questions is the A1 route to getting your sales prospect to shut down and kill your opportunity to quote.
You will sound like a robotic jerk and you’ll be dumped fast! Quite rightly.
It’s harsh, unskilled and lacks professionalism…
So save yourself the grief and take 5 minutes to learn the subtle art of using sales BANT so your prospects love you and together you get the opportunity to use BANT to strengthen your solution and the value the prospect gets from working with you.
If you’re unsure of what a good sales structure looks like – then before you look at the BANT-Lite version below, then check out this page – B2B Sales Call Structures
Typical Sales BANT usage might be something like this when you’re taking your prospect through sales qualification…
Once you’ve done the bulk of your fact find and sales discovery and you’re into the more ‘detailed’ end of the solution requirements then you might move into sales BANT using something like this…
Ok, Mr Buyer, just so I get some insight into how we’ll proceed can I just ask you, have you already got budget signed off for this purchase or does it need to go to the approval stage with your board? (Budget)
Great, and what sort of approval process do you use? And how is the best way for us to ensure that all the relevant people have enough opportunity to make the best decision for your organisation? (Authority)
Ok, understand, we’ve agreed that our solution can deliver what you need in terms of X, Y, Z, we agreed those are the critical and crucial criteria for you going ahead, and that our solution will alleviate the issues we’ve identified in X, Y, Z? (Need)
Excellent, and further to (the next action being agreed) you envisage that the approval should be given by 12 July? And within one week of that we should be able to get the implementation team around the table? After which you’ll be able to send the purchase order number across so we can get delivery for the week after that?. (Timing)
Excellent thank you.
Supercharge Your Sales Qualification Process
Obviously, this is a top line BANT summary. It covers all the main points broadly…but here is the real value of BANT, and it’s this….
Great sales teams, high performance sales teams will consistently use BANT through every single stage of the sales process . They will do this because:
- Prospects can, and do change their minds as the sales cycle unfolds
- New players may enter the process
- Time frames may shift
- Perspectives change with new people, revised scope
- Urgency levels change
- Logistics may evolve that weren’t evident at the start of the discussion…
The list goes on, so, that’s why wise and savvy sales professionals use BANT all though the sales process.
We cover it in more detail in our Sales Improvement Workshop – we cover Sales BANT and three other ways of commonly qualifying your sales prospects – plus everything you will ever need to know about how to sell to the modern buyer.
This is especially for you if you’re selling in a highly competitive sales space, where your buyers are flooded with sales options and where you have a short time to make a BIG and positive impression.
Being able to do a thorough, subtle and prospect-centric sales qualification can be a sales super power – for you and your prospects.
At a point where competition is literally everywhere, open 24/7, and able to service prospects at a lower cost than you maybe, then time is everything.
And sometimes, the only thing, you have in your favour! Using Sales BANT as part of your sales qualification process should be second nature to you.
Magnifying the Power of BANT Sales Qualification Questions
BANT is only part of the story.
It’s an important part.
However, on it’s own the power of BANT is very restricted, it’s a shout into the wilderness. It’s one hand clapping.
Very simply, BANT tells you that you are
- In the right position(or not) and
- you’re talking to the right person (or not) and
- you have some steer on the buying/decision making process
This is critical at the start of the process so you are able to meet your prospect where they are in their process, but also so you can understand whether this is a good fit prospect for you, and worth you investing your very precious time.
Likewise, it’s really important when you’re in the final 20% of the sales process, when you’ve invested a lot of time, energy, thought and resources, maybe you’re chasing quotes, for feedback or even closer, you’re chasing the order form
Ask anyone who has been randomly chasing the prospect who disappears once the quote has been sent….and ask them if they were super clear on the sales qualification process and how it matches with their prospects buying process?
Ask them if, with the benefit of hindsight, they would go back and qualify harder, in more detail, ask more questions and dig a little deeper…
I can guarantee you they will tell you YES!
Using BANT makes sales qualification, easy, seamless, part of the consultative sales process, and used properly, helps both you and the prospect cover every detail AND stay on track.
Don’t be that sales person! Don’t waste this very valuable opportunity
Hit this link Anyone Seen My Buyer? – if you want to have buyers chasing you to buy from you
To access the real power of sales BANT do this….
You combine BANT with Sales ROI (for more details on Sales ROI just hit this link to discover how High Performing Sales people work Sales ROI)
How to Combine Sales BANT and Sales ROI
Concentrating just on the Needs section in BANT.
Need is the most powerful motivator for change.
No-one will change if they are happy with what they have. So discomfort with the current status is the pre-cursor for any sales being made and any money being spend.
Any typically the bigger the ‘pain’ the bigger the spend!
You need ‘pain’ whether that’s to amend behaviours, persuade someone to buy a product/service or simply make different choices…
Those decisions are all driven by need. The bigger the need, then typically, the faster, easier, more compliant the buyer will be during the buying process
So, if you can create a powerful enough need with your buyer, then you have a huge motivator to use with your buyer to help them select to take action.
After all, a sales process is not one event (I wish) a sales process can be 20 different stages – all with go/no-go gates…
So being able to get a prospect in a position to commit fast, to take action fast, that makes a big difference, especially if you’re working in a highly competitive space (and who isn’t working in a competitive market?)
8 Key Ways to Increase the NEED Factor in BANT Using Sales ROI
- Fully explore the current ‘pain’ points associated with the current solution
- Explore what those pain points have cost the buyer in the past
- Extrapolate, realistically, what those pain points could cost the buyer in the future if nothing changes (this is the cost of doing nothing)
- Remember that the pain could be pain other than financial. It could be stress, loss of clients, brand damage, reputation, ill will among colleagues who have to pick up and solve the same problems again and again or failure to comply with authority etc
- Once you’ve fully explored the past and future costs, add them together…that can be quite the motivator in itself!!
- Next, look at some blue sky thinking. Note – you’d be totally weakening your NEED factor if you look at the blue sky scenario building before exploring the pain, since people will typically do more to escape pain than seek pleasure.
- Knowing the Pain/Pleasure Principle, check out some what if questions…what would it mean to your business if you could do X? What would it mean if you never had to deal with that again? How would you feel if you could illuminate that issue all together? What would that mean to your bottom line? What would that mean to your work relations? Your client relations? Whatever is relevant…
- Next, go back to the pain position and summarise the cost of doing nothing.
We cover all of this and lots more you need to know to really master the art of sales at our Sales Improvement Workshop – come and join us!
So, when you come to ask your Need based questions in BANT, they might sound something like this…
Ok, so let me check, we’ve agreed that our solution can deliver what you need in terms of increasing your brand reputation with your customers after some of the issues you’ve had before, will allow you to have total confidence in the promises you make to your customers, and will really improve the relationships in the warehouse and customer service teams since they won’t be taking as many complaint calls… we agreed those are the critical and crucial criteria for you going ahead, and that our solution will alleviate the issues we’ve identified in losing the X account at Xmillion per yr, losing part of the Y contract at Y million per yr and having the Z tender going back out to review?
See how powerful that statement is now you’ve fully quantified the prospects position if they do nothing?
(As a separate aside, just consider how easy it is to chase a quote once you’ve identified this level of need!)
Why Does Using Sales ROI with Sales BANT Help You?
Because using one without the other is just one hand clapping.
You are engaging in a process of mainly just selling to yourself when you do this.
Doing that is not sales qualification, it’s actually just verbal note taking….it’s not going to help you close the sale because you’re going through the motions but nothings really happening, compared to what could be happening! Look at the example above again and notice the impact and motivation that comes from the second way to use BANT…
Make it easy for the buyer to say YES!
If you’ve gone to the trouble of speaking with the key decision maker, then the next task is to motivate them to take action. BECAUSE motivated buyers take action, they take action quickly, and they see value (which helps you protect your margins)
Some people might call it persuasion, and that’s ok, but either way, think of it as making it easy for the prospect to say yes!
Making it easy for the prospect to make a decision. Making it even easier for the prospect to make a fast decision (because that means your competitor can’t sneak in at that last minute!)
That way you’ll be creating a real no-brainer sales proposition…and let’s face it, who says no to the no-brainer proposition?
BANT: Book Now
Try it out.
Check out the Sales Improvement Workshop – and discover how to sell to modern buyers, amplify your sales results, maximise your margin and enjoy how you sell…
You’ll wonder how you ever closed without it. You’ll also start to understand why some of your sales didn’t close when/how they should.
0779 002 1885
Hi, thanks for visiting….if you’re looking to increase or optimise your sales results, then please book a call to discuss how I can help you (use the links at the end of this box for direct message options) If you need a few more details, then here you go…. I’m an experienced data-driven, analytical sales trainer and sales improvement specialist. Proud to design sales training and sales improvement solutions that stick! Happy to share some insights if you want a quick steer – just book a call, especially if you’re not seeing the sales results you’d like, you’re struggling to know what to do next, or you’d really like to give your competitors something to worry about!
What’s you sales challenge?