One thing that you can never miss once you start working in the marketing and sales industry is how crazy creative the people are at creating acronyms and solutions for literally any problem in their respective domains. BANT is the outcome of one of such crazy acronym creativity.
BANT is coming together of four core elements that help the marketing and sales team understand the timeframe, inclination, and likelihood of a given lead to transform into a potential customer.
What exactly is BANT?
BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Time. It is a framework that helps determine sales qualification and helps prioritize the leads. This framework was a brainchild of IBM; IBM introduced it in the early 60s. BANT helps create an outline of the prospect by understanding their business and solution prerequisites.
BANT can also be used as a checkbox to click before the start of a sales process to ensure that their interest aligns with your organization's benefit.
For a BANT to qualify at a particular standard, at least three out of four elements should click to deem the lead as a quality lead. Further determination of quality occurs based on which three elements match and which one is left unmarked, as each component has a higher weightage than the one following it.
Budget is one of the most crucial factors in driving the path of any sale to be made. From a very young age, we are very well aware of the phrase "Cash is the King." Many decades later, it still stands as correct as ever. If your prospect has all the interest and Authority but doesn't have the money to afford your product or service, it would be as clear as daylight that they cannot be your customer. Affordability is an as bigger factor as anything else in this conversation because it only could be a deal maker or deal-breaker.
It is understandable that it could be hard to bring up the financial aspect right at the beginning of the conversation, questions such as “What projects have you implemented recently?”, “What is the average budget you set out for particular implementation?”, “What is your spending limit on a project of a particular scale?” could help you best to get cleared on that aspect before your sales team invests a lot of time on that client. Although this does not mean the budget won't fly in later, it's a clear indication of the client being in the beginning process and not yet ready to make a purchase.
Very understandably, finding a perfect fit in terms of budget is necessary. Authority is the element that comes right after; it sits close and tight with your budget element. In terms of B2B business, it is essential to understand who has the authority to pull the trigger and who the decision-makers are and should be targeted to best suit your product or service.
It is essential to know if your lead has the power to buy because your lead could love your product, but if he/she does not have any authority to make the call, it could simply delay the complete process. There would even be times when you have the hold of the most influential or authoritative figure in that organization, but your product/ service would require buy-in from a different department. A simple question such as "Who else is generally involved in the buying process?" could help you determine the next step.
When implementing this structure, an important thing to remember is the period in which IBM designed this framework; the 60's generally had a single decision-maker in the organization. While comparing that to this day and age, you might have to talk to a group of people or at least a couple before you get the green flag. You need to understand the structure early as you have to shape and structure the conversation accordingly.
The third factor of consideration in the BANT framework is Need. Need is the element that wires down the exact timeline and the organization's set priority to buy the particular product/ service. To drill down this element, you need to understand the challenges the organization faces and how these challenges impact their general daily productivity. Go as deeper as you can with this element to understand how urgent the need is, what motivates your prospect to decide, and how your solution adds value to his business.
Although, in the B2B market, the organization won't search for a product, tool, or service until a problem arises. Therefore, it is necessary to track the lead, understand the footprint, analyze the priority, and understand how badly they need your solution. You can find 100's of businesses that might need your solution, but you can't sell them a dime if they haven't identified the problem themselves.
The last element of the four is the timing or the timeline, if you have checked all the boxes so far, you are on quite an impressive run, but sometimes, the fourth element can turn out to be a deal-breaker. Talk to any sales representative globally, and you would understand how vital timelines and deadlines are. Before you pen down a deal, you must understand client requirements properly and make sure it fits with your timeline in a rather realistic manner. A sale down a few months is always better than no sale, but it is worth remembering that you need to focus on your immediate future and prioritize the leads ready to pass the ball at the current moment.
Sometimes chasing a big-ticket client can be like delivering a baby, a long wait, and inevitable pain at the end, but the results are nothing but fruitful. But at any point in time, if you start to feel the wait is turning into a forever affair, you can always reach out to the client and remind him of the potentially faded ROI over the waiting period.
Also read- A brief idea of B2B Marketplace
What are the benefits of implementing the BANT framework?
When you look at the market, you realize how quickly the market changes, and everyone associated with it adjusts or evolves itself to meet the market's needs. However, BANT is the framework that has stood the test of time and has felt no need to develop itself. BANT simply is designed with such a mechanism that fits all types of buyer personas and can be easily incorporated at any organization's sales department.
Suppose you are a modern-day SaaS company or a traditional product based company. The overall spectrum of BANT is so broad that it can fit various industries dealing with the lead-based mechanism. To top this up, BANT is equipped with a formal framework that helps the team be on the same page and follow a particular flow that automatically leads to improved quality of leads, which are prioritized through the sales funnel.
How well does the BANT framework work in 2020?
For the modern-day market, SaaS is an outright winner and the fastest growing industry. SaaS Market currently accounts for nearly $100 Billion. And BANT, at its current stage, goes strong with this Multi- Billion-dollar industry.
Over time SaaS is destined to change its definition and use BANT in such a way that it yields them a maximum benefit. As the SaaS industry keeps digging deeper into the market, it's becoming evidently clear that Need is becoming a more significant factor as compared to the Budget.
By the turn of this decade, we can see the BANT framework being tweaked a little, mostly to counter how the budget is no more a blocking issue. Instead of priority and timeline, it has a more significant impact on the proceedings.
What are the drawbacks of the BANT framework?
Over the years, along with numerous followers, the BANT framework has developed a few critics as well; these critics believe BANT is very seller centric and does not pay enough heed to the prospective clients. Coexisting with the media boom has made all the digital resources readily available for the buyers. And with the amount of information floating around in the market, buyers generally tend to research before filling out any form or sending in an inquiry.
This could also indirectly mean that they don’t want to face a set of questions or talk to a salesperson and explain why they are qualified to buy; this could even potentially put off the potential customer from buying due to the questions he has to answer.
In the end, it is up to you to decide if and when you would like to implement the BANT framework in your sales process. Although it is worth remembering, this method has been in the market for decades and has proved to be a winner for many organizations. Many still believe it to be amongst the best, and looking at the current market scenario, we can be assured that BANT isn't going out anytime soon.