Sales reps use the BANT framework to determine a prospect's fit with the product or service. Methodologies like BANT help sales reps focus on selling to good-fit prospects.
What Is BANT?
BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline. It’s a framework that sales reps can use to determine how qualified a lead is to work with your company and determine which leads they should prioritize.
“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 checklist 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 in 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, reps should learn this before they’ve invested too much time in nurturing that prospect.
Who makes the decision to go forward with a purchase? How much authority does your main point-of-contact have? What other stakeholders exist?
Understanding levels of 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, they should de-prioritize that sale until other contacts can be brought in.
What challenges does the prospect face? How much do these challenges impact their daily life? How do they hope you can help them overcome their challenges?
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.
How to Use BANT in a Sales Call
Now that we've gone over the basics of BANT, let's take a more in-depth look at how you can use this sales qualification framework during a sales call.
Understand your prospects' expected ROI: The first step is to understand your prospect's ROI requirements. This will help you determine if they're a good fit for your product or service and, if so, how you can best position your solution. For example, let's say you sell a CRM system that costs $100 /month. If your prospect's ROI requirements are to increase sales by 10% and they have a sales team of five people, their expected ROI would be $500/month ($100 x 5 people = $500).
Map out stakeholders' roles and priorities: Once you understand your prospect's ROI, determine the decision-makers in the buying process. This will help you map out whom you need to sell to and their priorities. For example, if you're selling a new software system, the decision-makers might be the Director of IT, the CFO, and the CEO.
Quantify the pain points: The next step is to quantify the pain points that your prospect is facing. This will help you understand how your product or service can address their specific needs. For example, if you're selling a project management tool, you might quantify the pain point by asking how much time is wasted each week managing projects manually.
Look beyond your prospect's initial problem: It's essential to understand that your prospect's initial problem might be one of many. For example, if you're selling a CRM system to a small business, its initial pain point might be losing track of customer data. But after further questioning, you might discover that they're also struggling with managing sales pipelines and forecasting.
Understand the sales process timeline and budget: Once you know the decision-makers and their priorities, you can begin to understand the timeline for the sales process. For example, if the CFO is the decision-maker, they might want to see a three-year ROI before making a purchase. If the CEO is the decision-maker, they might be more interested in seeing how your product or service can help them achieve their business goals.
Stay ahead of objections, delays, or concerns: As you go through the sales process, there will inevitably be objections, delays, or concerns. It's vital to have a plan for how you'll address them. For example, if your prospect is concerned about the price of your product, you might talk about the ROI they can expect to see.
Track your deals with digital tools: To keep track of your deals and ensure you're following up at the right times, it's helpful to use a sales tool like HubSpot Sales Hub. With Sales Hub, you can add notes and reminders for each deal, set task deadlines, and see your entire sales pipeline in one place.
Questions you can ask to identify BANT
By asking the right questions during the sales process, you can quickly gather the information you need to determine if a prospect is a good fit for your product or service. If they are, you can move forward with the sales process confident that you have all the information you need to close the deal.
To help you identify BANT information during a sales call, here are some questions you can ask in different scenarios:
For example, you're trying to close a deal with a large enterprise company. They've been interested in your product and working with you for several months. However, they keep pushing back on price.
The first question you should ask them is: What is your budget for this project?
This question will help you understand if the company has the budget to match your product's price. If they don't, you know it's not worth your time to continue trying to close the deal. However, if their budget is $10,000 or more, you know they can afford your product, and you can continue working with them to close the deal.
Ultimately, you should understand the prospect's budget beyond the dollar amount.
So, if you're digging deeper, ask the following question: What is your expected ROI?
You can overcome the price obstacle by asking about the prospect's expected ROI. If that aligns with your price, you have good reason to qualify the prospect on budget.
You're trying to sell your product to a tech company. Your point of contact seems interested in your product, but you need to check if they have the authority to make a purchase.
To understand their authority better, ask: Who else is involved in the decision-making process?
By asking this question, you can better understand their authority and whether or not they're able to make a purchase.
The same question works if you know that the decision-maker is the head of the marketing department. However, you need help to get a meeting with them.
The above question will help you determine if you need to speak with other people in the company before you can sell to the head of marketing. If other people are involved in the decision-making process, then it's likely that they will need to be consulted before a deal can be closed.
You're trying to sell your product to a small business in this scenario. Their initial pain point is that they need to keep track of customer data. However, after further questioning, you discover they also struggle with managing sales pipelines and forecasting.
The first question you should ask them is: What is your primary goal for using our product?
This question will help you understand the prospect's primary need and if your product is the right fit. If their immediate goal is to track customer data, then your product is likely a good fit. However, if their primary goal is to manage sales pipeline and forecasting, your product might not be the right fit. In this case, you would need to qualify them on need.
The second question you should ask is: What are the other pain points you're experiencing?
This question will help you understand if the prospect has other needs that your product can solve. If they do, then you can qualify them on need. However, if their other pain points are unrelated to your product, then you might not be able to qualify them based on need.
For example, you're trying to sell your product to a rebranding company. They express interest in using your product for their new website. However, they still need to set a timeline for when the project will be completed.
In this case, you can ask: What steps are required for you to complete the rebranding project?
This question will help you understand a general timeline for the project and whether or not your product is a good fit. If they have yet to set the next steps for the rebrand, then it's likely that they're not ready to make a purchase. However, if they have concrete next steps for the rebrand, you can qualify them based on that description.
Alternatives to BANT
There are a few options available if you're looking for an alternative to the BANT sales framework. The most popular alternatives are the CHAMP sales framework, the MEDDIC sales framework, the ANUM sales network, and the FAINT sales framework.
Each of these frameworks has its unique benefits and drawbacks. However, they all share one common goal: to help salespeople qualify their leads and close more deals.
CHAMP (Challenges, Authority, Money, Prioritization)
With the CHAMP sales framework, solving a prospect's specific challenge is central to the process. This methodology ticks a lot of the right boxes in the sales process, as it assumes that the budget can change depending on the solution's effectiveness.
ANUM (Authority, Need, Urgency, Money)
The ANUM sales framework prioritizes determining whether they're speaking with a decision-maker in the organization. The framework largely depends on the rep's rapport and relationship with the decision-maker; it also considers that companies sometimes have a flexible budget for the proposed solutions.
FAINT (Funds, Authority, Interest, Need Timing)
The FAINT sales framework is a good option for salespeople looking for a more flexible approach to qualifying their leads with suitable funds. It's ideal for reps that have lists of high-profile prospects with the ability to pay X thousands of dollars for the solution.
MEDDIC (Money, Economic Buyer, Decision Criteria, Decision Process, Identify Pain, Champion)
Specific buyer qualifications define the MEDDIC sales framework. The MEDDIC sales framework can help salespeople sell to larger organizations with longer sales cycles. By rigorously qualifying prospects before investing in the relationship, reps hope to see higher close rates and tremendous success.
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 stop 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.