Certain parts of BANT are still valuable to lead qualification.
One of the most common phrases I hear sales executives in complex B2B environments say is “We want to be way out ahead of the next RFP.” Translation: They want to be engaging with potential buyers well before the buyer has written and released an RFP to vendors to respond to. Most would agree that an RFP is a sign that a company has:
- set aside a determined budget—so much so that they are at the stage of gathering formal quotes from vendors.
- put a defined framework around the needs they would like addressed.
- set a deadline (i.e., timing) for gathering vendors’ proposed solutions.
Herein lies the contradiction: If we want to be way out ahead of the RFP, why do we continue to use BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) to qualify a lead? Another way to look at it is this way: By disqualifying leads that aren’t well defined, we are, in essence, waiting for the RFP, which is way too late in the buyer’s journey. This is no surprise considering that many sources, including Forrester and the Corporate Executive Board, cite that 55 to 80% of a buyer’s journey is complete before engaging with a supplier’s sales rep.
But don’t give up on BANT just yet. Shift your focus to the “A” for Authority, first and foremost. A person who has “authority” either holds a decision-making or influencer role for the purchase and use of the products or services your company offers. Invest time and energy getting to know these buyers’ agendas: What are they tasked with accomplishing in their role? What are their pains and challenges? How do they make decisions? What’s their risk/reward structure in the business? Who are they influenced by? What are their beliefs, perceptions, and tendencies? What’s their history of buying products and services?
Next, focus on “N” for Need. With knowledge of authority and agendas, it’s now easier for you to anticipate a buyer’s future needs. Historically, BANT in lead qualification has focused on need in the current state—what immediate need does the buyer have that they are trying to address? Based on what you understand about the buyer and the authority they hold, you can present proactive paths and solutions to address needs the buyer hasn’t even realized they have yet.
Now what? If you’ve got a good grasp of authority and future needs, you’re in a great position to transition the lead to a salesperson, who will then be able to proactively help shape a future RFP and “get ahead of it,” so to speak.
Here is a final perspective on this topic: Many companies have taken a “check the box on BANT” approach within their CRM system because it is simple and easy for their lead qualification staff to use. But when you think about focusing instead on authority and anticipating future needs, these are not “check the box” types of criteria that can be easily ascertained with “yes/no” or “present/not present” questions. For this reason, consider that your lead qualification staff may not have the requisite amount of business experience, buyer knowledge, or the necessary skill set to appropriately qualify and define authority and need. Further, your CRM and marketing automation systems may not have the right data capture mechanisms to document what you learn about the buyer in these areas.
Want to read more on this topic? Here some excellent resources I recommend: