What is BANT: definition, criteria, examples of questions

What is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): definition and lead scoring tips

When it comes to sales marketing, it’s necessary to focus on finding prospects with higher chances of converting into customers. And to help you filter through potential leads to find the best ones, there several lead qualification frameworks, including BANT.

What is BANT?

BANT is a marketing qualification approach. It lets sales reps determine whether a lead is a good fit based on their Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeframe.

BANT meaning and origin

BANT was formulated by IBM to identify an opportunity during a conversation with leads or clients about their business and solution needs. According to the IBM guidance, an opportunity is marked as confirmed if the prospect meets three out of four BANT criteria. Inside sales reps and sales managers may use either a stricter or more flexible form of BANT.

BANT stands for:

Budget – What is the lead’s budget?

Authority – Does the lead have the power to make decisions or do they influence policy-making?

Need – What are the lead’s business needs?

Timeframe – In what timeframe will the lead be fulfilling the solution?

How NOT to use BANT

BANT has fallen out of favor lately, but it’s not just the approach — it’s also the way you use it. The method fails when sales representatives use it as a control list, that is, they ask leads a series of routine questions without truly hearing their answer or working on adding value.

Let’s check an example of the incorrect usage of BANT:

  • Sales Rep: “Do you have resources set aside for this?”
  • Lead: “Not yet, but it should be settled on Friday.”
  • Sales Rep: “Great. And who will approve this deal?”
  • Lead: “My supervisor Mary.”
  • Sales Rep: “And you’ll arrange promo events around the state, but you do not have software for this so far. It looks like your existing system is hard to operate and scale.”
  • Lead: “Yes, that’s true.”
  • Sales Rep: “Is there a particular time you’d like to have this settled?”
  • Lead: “Maybe in two months.”
  • Sales Rep: “Okay, excellent. I think the next step is organizing a demo — what do you think?”
  • Lead: “I’d like to study this a bit more first… I’ll email you my decision in a week or two.”

The sales representative will never hear from this lead again.

BANT mistakes to avoid

What exactly went wrong during the conversation? Could the call have been more productive?

Interrogation. The conversation in the example looked more like an investigative interview, not an equal two-sided discussion. No one likes being interrogated. Sadly, sales reps often practice BANT in the wrong way and adhere to a fixed list of questions rather than asking additional logical questions.

Superficiality. The sales manager dropped several chances to dig deeper. They didn’t ask anything about the person responsible for making decisions (the supervisor), the budget ratification process, or the reason for the service approval.

To use BANT successfully, think of it as an idea rather than a checklist. You want to qualify based on all four components, but it’s not necessary to do them in a precise way. Instead, you should adjust your strategy every time to meet the needs of the contact.

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How to use BANT to qualify prospects

Here are some examples of BANTquestions for lead qualification:

Budget

  • How much do you currently invest in solving this issue or in satisfying this need?
  • We’ve assessed that your organization is losing X amount per [month, quarter, year] on this issue. How does that correlate with the resources you’ve put aside? Who will be covering that budget?
  • How expensive is it to build the system by yourself?
  • We’ve made calculations and assume that your company could potentially acquire X amount per [month, quarter, year] by performing this [action, change, investment]. How does that correlate with the resources you’ve put aside?
  • How much will your company lose if you don’t fix this problem in five years?
  • How heavily will the expense influence the decision?
  • Have you estimated a budget span for this investment?
  • What’s the ROI you’re anticipating to see?

Authority

  • Who will be using the product/service?
  • What was the last time you purchased a comparable product/service? How did the decision-making process go?
  • This is usually the step where my customer invites [the financial manager, the stakeholders, their president, etc.] to [consider X, get their vision on Y]. Would you like to bring them to our next appointment?
  • Who else is going to take part in this arrangement?

Need

  • When did you notice the opportunity/problem?
  • What efforts have you already made to approach it?
  • How critical is solving this issue to your individual goals? Professional goals? Your department?
  • What are your most important focus areas at the moment? Where is this issue on that list?
  • What occurs if you don’t approach this?

Timing

  • Are there any forthcoming meetings/deadlines that you’d like to have the arrangement in place by?
  • Are you planning any related project, e.g., lead gen campaign, headhunting, program revision, etc.?
  • What’s your [income, lead gen, retention, etc.] goal for [next month, quarter, six months]? Will you be able to reach that aim without some transformation?
  • Looking back from the given date, we’d need to settle our arrangement by [earlier date]. Does that sound feasible?
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Advice on the BANT sales process

Winning By Design CEO and founder Jacco Van der Kooij suggests some difficulties with practicing BANT in today’s business world.

1. Don’t view finance as a blocker

The budget probably isn’t a limitation for most organizations that use the subscription. Long ago, when sales managers were promoting licenses, it was necessary to fit within financial boundaries.

However, nowadays, most SaaS firms charge from several dollars to $10,000 per month. Your clients will pay the required price if you guarantee them a good ROI. Of course, this depends on the niche, like real estate, pharma sales, etc.

2. Outline who’s engaged

Another difficulty with BANT is that most settlements are now made by a team rather than a single person. The average number of participants involved in each deal is 6.8. Even if a single person signs the agreement, you need to persuade the major part of their group.

Determine everyone who takes part in the process: their job positions, preferences, role in decision-making, and how you can access them (asking to arrange a meeting, direct contact, etc.) The more connections you have, the more power you’ll have — and the less risk to lose this deal.

3. Understand the significance of the issue

Rather than discovering the lead’s budget, estimate how significant this problem is to them. Are they strongly motivated to resolve it? What occurs if they don’t? Is there another initiative they worry about more that will consume their focus, energy, and resources for decision-making? Readiness to act is sometimes a better sign of support than budget.

4. Determine how fast their organization makes decisions

You know the importance of their demand and who the decision-makers are, but how fast does their company make decisions? Discovering whether you’re standing before long weeks of signatures and approvals or a quick one-pitch-and-a-close agreement can help you organize your process and get ready to close the deal.

Wrapping it up

The BANT system has survived decades because it’s practical (if applied correctly), easy to memorize, and suitable for a wide range of products, pricing solutions, and sales funnels. Modify it to your situation and use it whenever you need to close an important deal.

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