BANT is a sales qualification framework that IBM first developed in the 1950s. Today it is part of their Business Agility Solution guide.
So what does BANT mean?
What is BANT and the BANT Methodology?
A definition of BANT is to provide a sales qualification framework that quickly qualifies leads, ensuring sales agents are spending time with those who are ready, willing, and able to buy.
Think of BANT in sales as a filter to pass your prospects through.
With the BANT framework, if a buyer meets three of the four criteria, they are considered a viable lead that sales should pursue.
Additionally, by using the framework repeatedly, sales agents can continually monitor their buyers’ sense of urgency, ensuring they spend most of their time ready to buy in the near term.
The BANT criteria are:
- Need, and
The BANT acronym stands for the four unique qualifications in the overall BANT sales method, as follows:
The B stands for Budget. The objective is to confirm the buyer has money to invest in your product or service.
BANT Questions include the following:
- Does the person you are speaking to have a budget?
- What is the budget amount?
- Will the buyer invest their Budget in my product or service?
The A stands for Authority. The salesperson must confirm whether the buyer has the authority to decide to buy or require approval from others.
- How do spending decisions at the company work?
- Does my prospect have the authority to make decisions independently?
- If they don’t, can they introduce me to the person who has the Authority?
The N stands for Need. At this level, the objective is to gain clarity around the buyer’s needs.
Questions can include:
- What is the specific Need of the prospect?
- Does my product or service solve the buyer’s needs?
- How significant is the Need?
The T stands for Timeframe. In this stage, we determine the time frame within which the buyer is planning to invest.
Questions should include:
- What is the timeframe the prospect expects to implement a solution?
- How urgent is their Need?
- Can I further increase the urgency?
How to Use the BANT Methodology?
Using the BANT framework effectively requires you consider each section dynamically. So, for example, although you may be attempting to confirm a budget sufficient to invest in your product or service, you can also explore questions in other areas.
Here are the basic steps to using the BANT sales method:
- Explore and understand your prospect’s Budget.
- Determine who is involved in making the investment decision.
- Confirm the importance and priority of the problem or pain.
- Understand what the prospect’s investment timeline is.
- Create a timeline for the sales process (based on the above).
You might be wondering, is the sales process of BANT outdated?
Although the BANT sales framework is still in use today, it’s often considered reactive rather than proactive.
Today, you might employ methods such as GPCT (goals, plans, challenges, timeline) or compare BANT vs MEDDIC (metrics, economic buyer, decision criteria, decision process, identify pain, and champion) to find the approach best suited to their market.
The Pitfalls of BANT For SaaS Lead Qualification
If you sell software as a service (SaaS), then there are some unique challenges you’ll need to overcome if using the BANT methodology.
In a SaaS sale, you often must create needs where none may exist. The objective is usually to help the prospect realize that their current process or solution is inadequate compared to what (our) software can offer.
For example, when Netflix first launched in 1997, they had to convince potential users of the software that streaming videos on demand for a monthly subscription fee were more valuable than visiting their local Blockbuster video store and renting a video.
Although streaming services may seem like a better option today, in 1997, internet service was not fast or reliable. Additionally, families who rented movies did not have an easy way to stream videos beyond using their computers.
In this example, Netflix needed to create a need that had a compelling value to their users, which justified the monthly investment.
Many SaaS companies face this same challenge.
BANT Methodology Add-Ons for SaaS Sales Qualification
For a SaaS company to experience success using the BANT framework, there are additional clarifying questions to incorporate for more effective qualification, namely:
1. Budget questions need to capture all costs associated with the prospect’s current solution or method. These might include wages, overhead, other software, inefficiencies, etc.
2. Introducing new software can impact multiple users. SaaS companies need to uncover the decision-maker, decision-influencers, and those affected by the software. Including these individuals early in the process can speed up the conversion rate.
3. Since SaaS often replaces existing steps or processes that are already effective, those in sales need to create a sense of urgency—developing a compelling reason to change from existing solutions to their software.
4. Due to the disruption new software can have on an organization, it’s essential that sales professionals fully understand, acknowledge, and address concerns around disruption. The degree to which exploring this area is necessary will depend on the organization’s previous experience with similar software or companies.
6 Best Discovery Questions For SaaS Qualification
Using the BANT methodology to support SaaS prospect qualification requires additional steps as described above and requires the use of clarifying questions throughout the process.
In this section, we’ve listed the best discovery questions for SaaS companies to use. These will lead to responses that, if fully understood, will speed up the sales process and lead to faster conversion.
BANT Questions To Include as Part of the Additional Steps:
1. What are the costs associated with your current process (or solutions) today?
This question uncovers all of the steps, software, and process waste the prospect may be involved in today.
Gaining a clear understanding of these steps and associated costs will allow you to fully understand the potential return on investment offered by your software.
2. What would the benefit be if you reduced these costs?
Most companies become accustomed to their existing processes. They identify what they will do, execute, and rarely revisit their method or approach. Herein lies the opportunity for SaaS providers.
When you can connect a cost to the additional steps or processes that your prospect is taking today (and that your software will eliminate or improve upon), you open their minds to why an investment in your software might make sense.
3. How might our software provide you with a compelling return on investment?
Building on the question above, we want to shift the focus of our discussion from costs associated with existing activities to how our software can and will create a dramatic ROI. Doing so will get and keep your prospects’ attention.
The greater the return on investment, the more minor pricing objections will arise later in discussions. Our goal with this question is to focus our prospects on qualitative and quantitative benefits that only exist if they invest in our software.
4. Who else has a direct or indirect influence on your investment decision?
Since the software can often impact multiple working groups, this question helps uncover the decision influencers. In doing so, the salesperson can quickly determine what additional features or benefits will need to be explored and presented to gain a buy consensus.
How should we engage other decision influencers in our discussion?
Although others will likely influence the buy decision, the prospect may not want to involve them early on. On the other hand, if they aren’t brought in until later, there is a chance that any work done up until this point may be a waste.
SaaS sales professionals can ensure they have a clear site and opportunity to involve decision influencers early on in the discussion by asking this question.
5. How vital will our software be to your future success?
This question helps the prospect envision using the software in the future. When you “paint a picture” of what the future looks like with your software, you begin widening the gap between where they are today and where they could be with your software in place.
Note this question should come after you’ve asked the questions above to ensure you’ve helped the prospect get clear on their return on investment.
6. If you don’t move forward with our software, what will impact you and your business?
Consider this is as a two-part question, similar to question five, to help your prospect recognize why they need to invest in your software. If you’ve done an excellent job until this point, the response you receive will align with the specific needs you’ve uncovered with the prospect and demonstrate why moving forward in the near term is a wise decision.
Additionally, this question helps the prospect focus on the impact of their buy decision (or lack thereof) on them and their role. It can also help to create a compelling personal reason for wanting to move forward with an investment.
How Do You Enhance BANT to Qualify SaaS Prospects?
Despite the BANT model being over fifty years old, it’s still relevant today.
Whether you are a SaaS company or seeking a simple framework to focus your selling time, BANT can be an excellent methodology to use.
The key is getting clear on the questions required for each framework level and then introducing a simple means of prioritizing responses.
When you do so continuously, you’ll find you waste less time with those who can’t buy and more time with those who can.
Considering time is a limited resource, using a framework like BANT only makes sense if you are serious about sales.
© Shawn Casemore 2022. All Rights Reserved.