No one likes having their time wasted. So, before we do anything — whether that’s watching a movie or going to the gym — we ask ourselves: is it worth it?
When it comes to choosing a movie, you might read reviews beforehand to lower your chances of spending a few hours watching a dud. And for something that has a bigger payoff, like the gym, you might invest in a personal trainer and commit more time to make sure you achieve your goal.
The same goes for sales. Lead qualification is the process of deciding whether or not a lead — aka your potential customer — is worth the time and money. And BANT is a great way to work this out.
What is BANT?
BANT is an acronym that stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe. It’s a tried-and-tested way of deciding whether a lead is worth the chase. Budget is the most important qualifier. If it’s a ‘no’ for that one, most salespeople will pass on the prospect. In addition to budget, a lead should meet at least two other criteria to be considered valuable.
Budget: the financial capacity of a client is a crucial qualifier. Does your lead have money to spend? For example, an advertising agency is better off pitching a large restaurant chain than a small cafe if they want to work with a bigger budget.
Authority: do you have access to the decision-maker, or do you need to speak to more people? It’s no good pitching the latest junior-level staff when the CEO is the one with their hands around the purse strings. An org chart can come in handy here as you work out your lead’s most senior people.
Need: does your prospect actually need what you’re offering? It would be a waste of time trying to sell hay to a farmer. Similarly, a small soap maker probably doesn’t need a multi-truck logistics provider.
Timing: finally, is your lead shopping around right now? For example, you’ll have much more success selling Valentine’s Day cards in February than you would in March.
Why is BANT useful for salespeople?
First and foremost, it saves time. BANT is a straightforward way to narrow your prospects until only the most valuable leads are left. That way, you can spend more of your time and effort pursuing clients with the greatest potential.
To use an analogy, let’s say you’re buying something online. You wouldn’t read the individual reviews of thousands of products that don’t meet your budget, size, or color requirements. You’d filter the results until you have a smaller and more relevant selection to properly examine. The same goes for sales.
Another added benefit of the BANT process is focus. Some people think every lead is an opportunity, but that simply isn’t good business. Chasing after every single prospect will spread your sales team too thin.
As a result, you may miss out on bigger prospects because you’re not able to put enough work into pursuing them. And even if you do win some smaller leads, the payoff will be comparatively smaller. In the end, you may devote too much time to serving clients who don’t really sustain your business.
How are leads generated?
You have a potential lead when you secure someone’s contact details — usually an email or phone number. There are various methods for collecting leads, including face-to-face networking, referrals, newsletters, and cold calls. Other methods involve engaging your audience by giving them something that’s useful, such as a free whitepaper, ebook, or tutorial. Whether or not you can turn these leads into customers is another story, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Once you have a lead, you can ‘qualify’ it by asking questions to learn more about the client’s compatibility with your services. Examples of lead-qualification questions include the following:
- Do you have a dedicated budget for [your project]? And what is that budget?
- If you weren’t limited by a budget, what would you do?
- Is there anyone else I should speak to?
- Do you already use products similar to ours? How do you feel about these products?
- What are the most frustrating things about your job?
- Are there any other issues we haven’t discussed?
- What’s getting in the way of you fixing these issues?
- When are you looking to solve these problems?
- Are you considering any other services?
5 signs your lead is interested
The following five signs are a good indication that things are heading in the right direction.
- They show genuine interest and keep asking questions.
- They’re quick to answer questions about current problems and give well-thought-out answers. This shows you the issue has been on their mind for a while.
- They offer solutions of their own. Again, this shows that the timing is right, and your prospective client is ready to start working on a solution.
- Your lead has authority, or they put you in contact with someone who has authority.
- They respond with urgency. This could include replying quickly to your emails or giving you a specific timeframe. A word of warning with this one, though: be careful to moderate their expectations, and avoid agreeing to anything that sounds unrealistic to you.
The more you refine your lead-identifying process, the more accurately you or your sales team will be able to find the right customers.
Diagrams are a useful way to approach this. An org chart can help you work out a company’s hierarchy, Gantt charts can help you map out an initiative’s timeframe, and a flowchart can help you sort your leads into ‘processing’ and ‘qualifying.’ There are plenty of diagrams to explore if you have the right online tool to do it. Your team will appreciate your commitment to transparency, and you’ll find it easier to organize your thoughts.
Nothing is ever guaranteed in sales, and a lead you thought was a sure thing could go cold. This sucks, but knowing you gave it your all and picked wisely saves you from asking yourself “what if.” BANT makes it easier to evaluate your sales techniques and move onto the next lead with confidence.
This post was originally published on February 12, 2020, and updated most recently on January 24, 2022.