Qualifying Prospects: Can We Just Kill BANT?

Sales methodologies like BANT — shorthand for budget, authority, need, timeframe — can help reps identify business opportunities at the outset of the sales process. 

However, when used at the wrong time and the wrong way — like checking off BANT criteria while talking to a prospect — reps lose ground qualifying prospective customers. 

Without a doubt, the B2B sales process is complicated. This is probably why nearly half of sales reps fail to meet their quota. 

While many variables drive the sales process, it comes down to this: the prospect you’re calling has no clue how your product will make their business better. 

However, things change when you go into the call prepared and connect with the person you’re contacting. 

What is BANT, anyway?

To ensure we’re clear on BANT, here’s the acronym breakdown:

  • Budget: the prospect can afford your product.
  • Authority: the prospect is a decision-maker.
  • Need: the prospect has a problem that your product can fix.
  • Timeframe: the prospect can implement your solution within X amount of time.

Your research and account mapping shouldn’t focus on BANT. It should confirm that the company is worth going after. 

Why you should put BANT on the backburner

  • Budget: In reality, no one has the money. Your job is to position yourself (and your product) and show prospects the value you bring. If your offer makes sense and they understand the value, they’ll find the budget.
  • Authority: In an ideal world, you’d get the decision-maker on the phone and seal the deal. However, B2B transactions involve multiple decision-makers.

Ultimately, you want to connect with several people (think multi-threaded sales approach). That way, if your contact leaves their position at the eleventh hour of signing, you can take the deal over the finish line with the other decision-makers.  

  • Need: If you’ve done your research, you’ll know your prospect’s need going into the call — based on your ideal customer profile (ICP). 
  • Timeframe: You’ll work out the timing! The goal is to get the conversation going. 

That said, knowing that a prospect just dropped a service or their renewal with a competitor is coming up will give you intel to shape the initial conversation (and create urgency). 

How to qualify a sales prospect efficiently

What does it take to qualify a prospect efficiently? It starts with selecting companies and people that fit your product or service. 

Look at deals you’ve closed over the years and say, “We need to go after companies that look just like this.”

Once you get your prospect on the phone, the goal is to show them the positive impact your product can have on their business.

Ditch the pitch.

What’s the first thing running through their head, knowing someone is on the line wanting to sell them something? Anywhere from how long will this take to how annoyed will I be after the call?

It’s up to you to flip how they perceive your call. 

Your B2B sales prospect doesn’t want a sales pitch. They want a conversation — one that focuses on their needs and wants. The information you bring to that call has the potential to open the door to the next step. 

Need some motivation to pick up the phone? Tell yourself this: 

“I have a duty to call that person because I can truly solve their problem and help them grow.”

Remember, you’re the expert in the room.

For new reps, jumping on a call with a senior executive can be intimidating. In the same way, others may find talking to a scrappy startup C-suite difficult. 

The key is to go in confident: This is your area of expertise, not theirs. You have something valuable to give your prospective customer. 

To establish yourself as an authority, line up relevant case studies. Weave your social proof into the conversation by sharing a relatable customer-success story: “We recently helped a customer in a similar business to yours and with a similar problem.” 

Ask questions to get prospects talking.

By asking open-ended questions and letting your prospective customer talk, a couple of things happen. 

1. You understand where they’re coming from, where they want to be, and where you fit in. 

2. Your prospect starts to know, like, and trust you.

Don’t let BANT into the conversation

When it comes to prospect qualification methodologies like BANT, sure, you can pull things from it and gather tidbits here and there as you map accounts.

However, each decision-maker you get on the phone is a small victory. And BANT has no place in that call. 

The goal is to get other stakeholders’ weigh-in quickly, pull back the covers on what your prospective customer needs (versus what they think they need), and show them how you can make their business more profitable.

In the end, people want to have a conversation. What are you waiting for?

Big thanks to Jake Shaffren and Bradley Metz for contributing their sales expertise to this post.