Not all leads are created equal.
As a sales rep is going through their day, they need to be able to prioritize their efforts so they’re utilizing their time and resources effectively.
The BANT framework can be used to determine how qualified a prospect is so that sales reps can focus on selling to good-fit prospects.
What is BANT?
BANT stands for budget, authority, need and timeline, and it’s a framework that can be used to determine how qualified a lead is to work with your company and determine which leads should be prioritized.
“You use a tool like BANT to make sure that from a qualification standpoint a lead fits the mark before you continue conversations,” Inside Sales Manager Beth Abbott says.
BANT is basically the fundamental checkboxes you need to confirm with a prospect at the start of the sales process to ensure a lead aligns with your company.
What are the prospect’s expectations around pricing? What do they typically spend on this type of purchase? Where is their funding coming from? Is there any flexibility with their budget?
Budget is an essential conversation to have with any prospect because if they can’t afford to work with your company, there’s no point moving forward with the sales process.
“If you’re just on totally different polar ends of what is feasible with budgetary resources, then it’s not going to be a good fit,” Beth says. “The whole goal of something like BANT is qualification and understanding of alignment and urgency. Budget is a part of alignment for any company.”
If a prospect’s budget doesn’t align with your company, then it’s best for your reps to learn that before they’ve invested too much time in nurturing that prospect.
Who’s making the final decision around whether to go forward with a purchase? What’s the decision-making authority of your main point-of-contact? What other stakeholders exist?
“Authority allows us to understand the different buying roles within the prospect group we’re talking to,” Beth says. “It’s good to get a sense of who we’re going to have to sell into because you don’t want to overspend time on someone that isn’t going to have the authority to make something happen.”
Understanding authority will help sales reps know who needs to be involved in the buying process. Plus, if the lead they’re talking to doesn’t have any authority, that’s a sign that they can de-prioritize going after that sale until other contacts can be brought in.
What challenge is the prospect facing? How much is their challenge impacting their daily life? What are they hoping your company can do to help them?
Sales reps will need to determine if a prospect’s challenge is something they can actually solve and how pressing the need is. If your product or service won’t solve the problems a prospect is facing, then that’s a sign that they’re a poor fit. Additionally, if a prospect’s need is more of an inconvenience, then they might not be motivated to resolve it quickly, requiring more time and effort to move that sale forward.
What is the prospect’s timeline? Is their timeline realistic?
“Timeline tells us in a sales process when they are ultimately trying to make a decision,” Beth says.
Reps can work backward from the end goal to determine when key steps need to happen in the sales process.
Understanding how tight timelines are can help reps determine which leads to address first. If a prospect needs to make a purchase within three months, that sale should receive immediate focus. Meanwhile, if a prospect is considering options for a purchase they plan to make next year, it’s better to send them some helpful resources and then follow up closer to when they’ll actually be making a decision.
Going Beyond BANT with GCPTBA/C&I
While BANT is a good baseline for initial qualification, Beth recommends reps go more in depth than those four factors to better understand a prospect’s motivations.
“BANT on its own is very linear. It’s like checking boxes in a sales process,” Beth says. “But you don’t dig into the why.”
Instead, Beth recommends using the GCPTBA/CI model, which looks at goals, plans, challenges, timeline, budget, authority, negative consequences and positive implications.
“These additions dig deeper into why these are people’s goals and broadens your understanding of what they’re facing and the way they’re thinking of handling their goals and challenges,” Beth says.
That additional information will provide sales reps with not just an understanding of how good a fit a prospect is, but also how to progress with the sale.
What quantifiable goals does a prospect have? Are they realistic?
Knowing this information gives your rep a better understanding of whether or not your company can actually help a lead with what they hope to accomplish.
Having quantifiable goals is also important for expectation setting as a sale progresses. Reps may need to recommend different products or services than what a prospect was originally considering or adjust a lead’s ideal timeline based on what they want to achieve.
How is a prospect thinking about achieving their goals? What solutions are they considering outside of working with your company?
This information helps the sales rep understand how much need there is for your company and solution specifically.
Where are they going to run into issues with their plans? What roadblocks have they hit while trying to reach their goals?
“There’s clearly a reason that you’re having a conversation with them at that point,” Beth says. “Whether that’s a lack of resources or understanding, those are the things that give a sense of need and where you can solve challenges.”
A prospect’s challenges are what’re stopping them from achieving their goals. These illustrate where there’s an opening for your product or service to come in and provide value. However, if your product or service can’t address their challenge, then you’re not a good fit. Sometimes discussing challenges can also reveal internal roadblocks that might indicate a prospect isn’t a viable opportunity, like lack of internal buy-in, which can help reps steer clear of starting a sale they won’t be able to close.
Timeline, budget and authority
These three factors are the same from BANT.
Timeline helps reps determine how soon a sale needs to happen and when key steps need to be completed for a goal to be achieved. Budget helps a rep understand if a prospect can afford your company’s solution. Authority tells a rep who else from a prospect’s company will need to be involved in order for it to close.
Consequences and implications
Why is a prospect’s timeline what it is? What will happen negatively if they don’t achieve that goal on time? What will happen positively if they do?
“The negative consequences and positive implications allow us to understand a prospect’s sense of urgency in achieving that goal,” Beth says.
Knowing the consequences and implications will help a rep understand how the other factors can impact a prospect and their company. Will hitting their goal result in the prospect getting promoted? If a goal isn’t achieved, will the company lose its funding? Is the timeline arbitrary because the goal just needs to be accomplished eventually?
“It’s obviously going to be a much harder sell if there’s zero sense of urgency,” Beth says.
Consequences and implications give a rep a sense of how much effort it’ll take to make a sale and provide them with leverage that they can use to shape their sales process.
“BANT is a good baseline for qualification,” Beth says. “It’s a good baseline to get a quick hit of what is going on with a prospect and if they are going to be a good fit. How you take it to the next level is by adding in the other questions to get an understanding of why.”
That deeper understanding provided by GCPTBA/CI can help your reps better tailor the next steps they take in the sale process.
Quinn is a writer and copyeditor whose work ranges from journalism to travel writing to inbound marketing content. She’s super passionate about grammar and punctuation and loves learning new things that she can share with readers. Her favorite punctuation mark is the em dash.