Qualifying prospects is a critical step in the sales process. It keeps you from spending time on opportunities that are unlikely to convert. And helps you determine where you should prioritize your efforts.
It’s easier said than done, of course. So how do you qualify leads? How do you determine if a prospect is a good fit for your products or services?
Using a sales qualification framework like BANT can help.
In this guide, we’ll describe the BANT framework, including what it is and how to determine if it’s right for your team. We’ll also clarify how you can implement this framework and provide a list of sales qualifying questions that you can ask.
BANT is an acronym for:
A prospect is considered viable if they meet at least three of the four criteria. However, if a prospect doesn’t meet the criteria, the sales rep can follow up later.
Here’s how the different components of the BANT framework help with sales qualification.
Money is an important factor in any purchasing decision. If something is outside your budget, you have to either forego it altogether or consider other options. The same is true for your prospects.
A prospect needs to have the available budget to be considered a buyer. If they can’t afford your solution, they’re likely not a good fit. By talking about pricing early on, a sales rep can determine whether to move on from a lead.
But don’t jump the gun too soon.
Purchasing decisions often involve multiple stakeholders — some are gatekeepers who are simply passing along information, while others have the final say.
Learning more about your prospects can help you determine if they have the authority to proceed with the next steps or if you need to get others involved.
Even if a prospect isn’t a decision-maker, they likely have some influence within the organization, so don’t make them feel undervalued. Build trust with your point of contact, and you can even turn them into advocates for your company.
The next step in the BANT framework is to understand your prospects’ needs. What challenges are they facing, and does your solution solve them?
If not, you’d disqualify a prospect and move on. It’s better to prioritize those who have an actual need for your solution because they’re more likely to derive value from it and turn into lifelong customers.
The last BANT component is the timeline.
Prospects keen on making a purchase soon, have a higher sense of urgency. By prioritizing these leads, you can speed up the sales cycle and close more deals.
BANT is a popular qualification framework, but what works for one company may not work for another. Weighing its pros and cons can help you determine if it’s a good fit for your sales team.
Let’s start with the benefits of the BANT framework.
One of the primary benefits of the BANT framework is that you can apply it to different buyer personas. You can easily modify the questions and relate to the person you’re speaking to.
BANT is also a flexible qualification framework. Whether you’re the head of sales for a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) startup or an enterprise, you can adapt the framework and continue to refine it over time.
Finally, following the BANT framework helps keep your team on the same page. This ensures your team follows the same standards when qualifying opportunities.
BANT was created in the 1960s, so it’s not exactly modern. While the fundamentals are still intact, this decades-old framework falls short in some areas.
Take the budget criteria, for instance. Disqualifying a prospect because they’re not ready to buy soon could cause you to lose the deal if their circumstances change (e.g., they receive funding).
Another drawback is that BANT is more seller-centric. Sales reps aren’t building relationships or providing value. They’re trying to determine whether a lead is worth pursuing, but this can be off-putting depending on how the questions are asked.
Whether you choose to implement the BANT framework to qualify prospects is up to you. But it does offer a proven method for identifying quality prospects.
Not every prospect is the perfect fit for your company. So how can you ensure that your reps are spending time on opportunities that are more likely to close?
Look at the list you created and identify common attributes. Consider the following attributes to narrow down your ideal customer:
This list is not exhaustive by any means, but it does offer a great starting point. If a prospect doesn’t fit your ICP, consider disqualifying them.
The first BANT criterion is budget.
Understanding how much your prospects can spend is key to qualifying them. It also helps you properly scope a project and manage expectations early on.
However, discussing pricing can be tricky. Asking prospects what their budget is right away can scare them away because it comes off as aggressive. However, the longer you wait to discuss pricing, your chances of closing the deal reduce significantly.
But timing matters here.
You don’t want to start a sales call with a budget question and push your prospects away before you have a chance to build a relationship with them.
We found that the top reps discuss pricing about 38 to 46 minutes into a call, while average reps bring up pricing much earlier.
Once you build a relationship with your prospect and get them to see the value of your offer, you can ask budget questions like:
These types of questions help you gauge how serious your prospect is about buying and whether they have the means to.
The second BANT criterion is authority.
Ideally, you want to work directly with decision-makers or, at the very least, someone who has a strong say in the final purchasing decision.
Decision-makers are often part of the C-suite or top-level management. They have the power to move deals forward. If a prospect doesn’t have the authority to approve purchases, your next priority is to identify and connect with a decision-maker.
The difference was even more pronounced for enterprise deals with a sales cycle longer than 90 days and valued at over $100,000. These were 233% less likely to close when a decision-maker wasn’t involved.
Here are authority-based questions you can ask:
Asking these questions can help you determine if a prospect is a decision-maker or if you need to get others involved.
The third BANT criterion is, need.
For example, let’s say you offer an internal communication tool.
A rep learns that a prospect struggles with keeping their team on the same page. Important communications are often missed, affecting deadlines and resulting in unhappy customers.
If a rep determines that this prospect is a good fit, they can position their software as the solution by emphasizing how it can keep communications centralized and organized.
Asking too many questions can make it sound like an interrogation while asking too few can make it hard to unearth enough pain points.
Here are examples that you can ask to uncover pain points:
Asking these questions will give you more information about your prospects and the extent of their problems. It’ll also help you determine if you can actually meet those expectations.
The fourth BANT criterion is the timeline.
Without a clear timeline, you run the risk of a long sales process. Knowing when your prospect plans to buy will help you manage expectations and plan your sales pipeline.
Before asking your prospects about their timeline, look at the average length of your sales cycle first. This will depend on factors like your industry, business model, and pricing.
For example, a product that costs $10 a month will have a faster sales cycle than a product that costs $1,000 a month. The latter will likely involve multiple stakeholders, which can extend the sales cycle by months or even longer.
If a prospect has a purchasing timeline that falls at or below the average length of your sales cycle, they could be a great opportunity.
Ask these questions to get an idea of your prospect’s timeline:
If a prospect has a purchasing timeline that exceeds your average sales cycle, you can either disqualify them or follow up at a later date.
If you’ve followed the BANT framework up to this point, you should have everything you need to determine which prospects to push into your pipeline.
Spend time setting and confirming the next steps with your prospects. This will depend on where you are in their buying process. For example, if you’ve finished an introductory sales meeting, the next logical step is to set up a demo. At the end of a call, you might ask something like:
“I’m excited to show you how [feature] can help solve [pain point]. Would you like to go ahead and schedule a demo now?”
Always make sure to confirm the next steps to keep the deal moving. The last thing you want is to have a misunderstanding derail a potential deal.
MEDDIC is an acronym that stands for:
If you sell a product or service with a short sales cycle, the MEDDIC framework would be overkill. Prospects won’t have the patience to sit through the line of questioning required to learn their processes. BANT would be better in this case.
One of the biggest challenges that reps face is identifying the right prospects. Without properly qualifying them, the reps risk spending valuable time on prospects who are unlikely to convert.
So how do you ensure that your team is focusing on the right buyers?
By asking the right questions.
To quickly recap, BANT involves qualifying prospects based on four criteria: Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeline. A prospect only needs to meet three of them to be considered validated.
Of course, once you qualify a prospect, your job isn’t over yet. You’ll need a way to manage your pipeline if you want to close more deals and to do that, you’ll need the right tools.
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