BANT Sales: Is the Framework Still Relevant in the Age of Informed Buyers?

BANT Sales: Is the Framework Still Relevant in the Age of Informed Buyers?

Ah, BANT—the mysterious four-letter word of the sales world. While you might be tempted to roll your eyes and file it away with all the other buzzwords, the BANT qualification process is still alive and kickin’. 

BANT’s relevance today isn’t so much about the acronym itself, as it is about what this framework can do for your effectiveness at selling. And it can actually help you better qualify leads and sell to the right people. Intrigued? You should be. 

Let's chat about BANT and see if it still holds up in the era of well-informed buyers.

What is the BANT Qualification Process and How to Use BANT in Sales

BANT stands for Budget, Athority, Need, and Timing. It's a lead qualification framework used by many sales reps in B2B. Think of it as your outline to see if a prospect is a good match for what you're selling. Using this sales framework ensures you're not wasting time on folks who aren't the best fit.

Fun fact: BANT has been around in sales forever. Okay, maybe not forever, but IBM came up with this framework in the 50's. So it’s been a while. You may be asking, “Why the heck do people still care about it?” Well, because BANT is solid. It’s still relevant, and it can give you a great base for your sales calls.

Okay, let’s talk more about what BANT encompasses:

  • Budget: Can they afford it? You don't want to pitch an enterprise-class product to a mom-and-pop. 
  • Authority: Who's calling the shots? In sales, you want to know if the decision-maker is at the table. Or at least a person who influences that decision. 
  • Need: Do they have a pain point to solve that your product can address?
  • Timing: When are they ready to make a move? You don't want to be all dressed up for the party, only to find out the party isn’t until next year. 
BANT

Let’s get to some more details and qualification questions for each component of the BANT sales framework.

Budget

The truth is that everybody you’re selling to has a budget. The question here is more about whether they want to spend it on your product. So, from our perspective, the first letter of BANT is more about, “Is our product, in the prospect’s eyes, worth what it costs?” 

If a prospect can justify the purchase decision, great. But if a prospect can’t connect the dots between your product value and their budget, money will become an objection. And that’s no good. 

So try approaching budget discussions when your intuition says it’s the right moment. Maybe a less direct question here will help. Just try to understand better how they manage their budget and how they’d approach adding new software to their current stack.

Let’s look at a few qualifying questions to learn about the prospect’s budget:

  • Can you describe how you see the budget aligning with your overall business objectives?
  • How much do you spend on [category] tools?
  • Have you already set aside a budget for a tool like this?
  • What's the budget decision process like?

Authority

Is your prospect a decision-maker? In the media era, it’s pretty easy to do your research, check where the prospect sits in the organization, and analyze the org’s chart. Check their current role, their experience, and maybe even talk with some of their peers. 

But remember: it’s also about the organization's dynamics. For example, the decision-maker may have a job title that doesn’t say much, but they’re actually the person in charge. Or, you may have better luck convincing someone who has the decision-maker’s ear.

Even if your prospect is clearly not a decision-maker, don’t back out. Buyers are aware these days, and even junior folk can pull the trigger or influence the deal. It’s just a matter of the specific situation or who will use your product.

Keep the “Authority check” in the back of your head. If you feel it’s the right moment, ask questions like: 

  • Could you share how decisions like this typically get made within your organization?
  • Could you provide some insight into the dynamics of your decision-making process?
  • Is there a specific team or department that needs to give the nod to this kind of project?
  • Is there anyone else within your organization I should connect with regarding this decision?

Need

Simple rule—if there’s no need for your product, they’re not gonna buy. 

Can your product possibly solve their problem? What are they facing right now? Does your product actually stand up to the challenge they have?

Identify these needs, and you’ll crush your quota. (Okay, maybe not with just this, but you know the drill.) Show them that you care, that you have empathy for them, and that you understand the pain points they’re going through.

If you help prospects connect the dots between your product and the solution to their problems, you’ll get a new customer.  

Sales qualification questions to learn about the prospect’s needs:

  • How would you describe your ideal solution to the challenges you're facing? 
  • Can you walk me through a typical day or process in your role, and where you see room for improvement?
  • Have you explored other solutions in the past that didn't quite meet your needs? What was missing?
  • Are there any must-have features or functionalities you're looking for in a solution?

Timing

Timing in sales is everything. Literally. Time is the number one deal killer, because the more time passes, the less likely you are to close that deal. 

Learning about your prospect’s timeframe for making a purchase will help you plan future actions based on whether the purchase is urgent or not. Plus, you can follow up (without being awkward) if they don’t respond within the agreed timeline. 

Take a look at the qualifying questions to learn about the prospect’s timeline:

  • Are there any upcoming events or milestones that might influence when you'd like to get started?
  • How soon would you like to see improvements or changes in your current situation?
  • Can you tell me more about your team's bandwidth and availability to embark on a project like this?
  • Are there any external factors, like industry trends or regulations, that might impact your timeline?

Okay, that’s what the BANT framework is about. Let’s get more practical with a real BANT example. Aman Ghataura, Head of Growth at NUOPTIMA, shares a great example of how BANT is used in real life.

“A friend of mine runs a CMS specifically designed for news websites. His ICP would be a news website that currently runs on WordPress and wants a cheaper/better/faster solution.

B → His product can cost $5k per month. For that sort of budget, the prospect probably needs to make a certain amount of revenue. News websites’ revenue is correlated to the number of pages they have on their site. So, for argument's sake, a budget-qualified prospect may have 10,000 web pages. This is something we can measure using analytical tools. 

A → His product requires a CMS migration, and it impacts business revenue. The CEO and CTO will be involved in decision-making. Without them, a deal can't get through. 

N → Prospects that need his tool usually feel some obvious pains: slow site speed, website downtime. All can be measured with tools

T → If we can speak to the prospect very close to a screw-up with their website, we may be able to capture them at the right time when their pain is highest and open to a new solution.”

How to Use BANT in Sales (Without Interrogating Prospects)

There’s no secret formula to using BANT without sounding like a detective. David Reir, a Sales Director at VEM has a good take on this: 

“Using BANT effectively without appearing overly interrogative requires finesse. Instead of bombarding prospects with questions, it's more productive to focus on building a relationship.

“Share insights and value first, and as the conversation progresses, naturally integrate BANT-related questions. This approach ensures that prospects feel heard and valued rather than just another lead in the pipeline.”

Remember, in the era of informed buyers, people can sniff out bullshit very quickly. Act like Meryl Burbank selling a Mococo drink in The Truman Show, and that’ll be it. The deal is gone.

So, how do you use BANT the right way to better qualify prospects? 

1. Use BANT as an Outline for a Conversation, Not a Checklist

BANT is just a framework, so don’t let it become the key force in the conversation. 

A good way to think about BANT is to keep it in your back pocket. Your focus should be on the customer. You both want to have a good business chat after all, right?

So ditch BANTing and start building a relationship. Have a nice joke or an ice-breaker. Share something interesting or ask them about their opinion on the newest industry trends. 

When you entirely focus on the prospect, qualifying them is kept on the back burner. And this is how trust and rapport unfold.

“Avoid robotic conversations by allowing the conversation to flow naturally and completing BANT in any order (not B->A->N->T),” adds Aman Ghataura.

2. Mix Open-Ended and Closed-Ended Questions  

Many sales reps say, “Use just open-ended questions, this way, you encourage prospects to share more info.” We’d say, yes but also no.

Open-ended questions are pretty intense for a prospect. They have to make an effort to share their thoughts. Answering many open-ended questions is tiring. So mix them with closed-ended questions so you don’t overwhelm your prospects.

Feel out the moment to figure out when to jump in with something bigger. This way, you’ll have a great talk, plus close-ended questions give you useful, factual information. By combining both, you strike a balance between engagement and information gathering.

3. Include BANT Qualification in Lead Generation

The good news is that BANT is so universal, it can help in both sales and marketing.

Marketing wants to deliver hot MQL leads to the sales team, so it’s a great option for them to start the BANT qualification during the marketing acquisition stage.

This way, both teams win—marketing delivers better leads, and you get some of your questions answered right out of the gate.

Here’s some practical tips on how to do this: 

  • Include qualifying questions in the lead form: Ask about budget constraints, job title (to address authority), and specific needs. 
  • Content personalization: Focus on addressing the specific needs and challenges of your target audience in ads, guides, etc.
  • Segmentation based on BANT: Categorize leads into different categories based on their form answers. 
  • Automate journeys based on BANT: Prepare different journeys based on lead form answers and create automated workflows. 

You also have the option to use BANT on social media. Here’s how Aman Ghataura approaches this.

BANT on Social Media - Aman Ghataura approach

4. Base Your Qualification Framework on Your Ideal Customer Profile

BANT can (and should) be combined with other tools, and it’s especially effective in combination with a well-defined Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

Your ICP defines the characteristics of your most valuable customers—so not only are you chasing good leads, but you have a solid plan for those that fit into your sales pipeline

Talk with your prospects and directly address their specific pain points, buying criteria, and preferences. Test out different messaging to see what resonates. Voila, you’re getting closer to crushing your quotas.

5. Weave Discovery and Qualification into Your Sales Process

Especially if you’re selling tech, you’re probably selling to Millennials and Gen Z. They focus on getting to know the product, assessing the price tag, and ensuring the value is there. Do a 30-minute “lead qualification” call with them without showing the product, and you’ve lost them. 

Actually, our very own James Urie, Senior Partnership Manager, said it well: “Millennial consumers have no patience for traditional marketing. So why not create a B2B buying experience that mirrors the way they make purchases every day?

How can you do it? Lead with your product.

Here are two ways the team at Close is doing this (that you can swipe):

  • Weaving discovery into your demo: Nobody likes signing up for a demo that turns out to be a discovery call in disguise. Instead of making your prospects wait for a walk-through of your product, lead with your product first. Let them see how it works. And through the process of the demo, weave in your key discovery questions. This will keep the conversation flowing naturally and speed up discovery.
  • Offer a self-serve demo: At Close, we have a 10-minute product demonstration that anyone can watch for free, no questions asked. This works because new leads can see whether our product is right for them without waiting at all.”
How to Use BANT in Sales - Weaving discovery into your demo like Close

So, just give these prospects value first. Ensure they’re engaged and get what they want from the get-go. What’s in it for you? Well, after showing them a demo, there is a great opportunity to check their needs. Also, there’s space to check their budget limits and general feeling about the product.   

Advantages and Disadvantages of BANT

BANT, as any other framework, is somehow limiting and shouldn’t be your end-all-be-all solution for qualifying leads. Let’s take a look at the common pluses and minuses of BANT. 

Advantages of BANT

  • Helps with prioritization: BANT helps sales teams figure out where the team's resources should go. This way, your folks will focus on leads that are actually likely to convert. 
  • Sets your sales process in order: As you have a more structured framework for qualification, you know who may and may not convert. This improves your team’s forecasting.
  • Customized approach: BANT criteria help you adjust your approach to each lead's specific needs and circumstances. This sparks quality in conversations.

Disadvantages of BANT

  • Overly simplistic: In B2B sales, stuff gets complex, so BANT may not capture all the intricacies of your prospect's buying journey, especially in longer sales cycles where there are multiple stakeholders.
  • Feels rigid and poses a risk of overlooking good opportunities: BANT structure can ruin the deal and disqualify a prospect that’s promising but doesn’t tick all the boxes right now.
  • Focuses more on the needs of the rep, not the prospect: BANT, when applied bluntly, can ruin your relationship with a prospect and give a feeling that you’re the typical pushy salesperson who sells bullshit.

Enno Lueckel, Senior Director at Körber Supply Chain, adds this insight: “I do see BANT mainly as a lightweight qualification tool, good to qualify leads on a SQL level. For more detailed qualification, I would use MEDDIC or one of the variances. 

“Another good use case for BANT is alongside partner programs, where partners might not provide much information on leads. BANT is clearly a nice tool for anything lightweight. Also, such a program should be integrated into the CRM flow.”

Speaking of MEDDIC and other alternatives, let’s explore other sales frameworks. 

What are the Alternatives to BANT?

You know that modern selling is more than just one framework. Let’s talk about other approaches to qualifying leads and moving deals forward.

Alternatives to BANT: MEDDIC, CHAMP, NEAT (Oh My!) And GPCTBA/C&I

Other sales frameworks that may fit your process better than BANT. Here’s the overview: 

  • MEDDIC: This acronym stands for Metrics, Economic buyer, Decision criteria, Decision process, Identify pain, and Champion. Basically, it’s all about taking a deep dive into what the buyer's going through and making sure your product fits their journey.
  • CHAMP: This framework encourages sales professionals to uncover the Challenges customers face, explore their History, understand who holds the Authority, delve into the Money aspect, and identify their Priorities.
  • NEAT: The NEAT sales methodology is a comprehensive approach to understanding and engaging with potential customers. It stands for Needs, Economic Impact, Access to Authority, and Timeline.
  • GPCTBA/C&I: It's like BANT, but with a turbo boost because it includes goals, plans, and budget.

How do these sales methodologies work in practice?

Michael Wall, Founder at Codefixer says: “The main reason I prefer MEDDIC, CHAMP, and GPCTBA/C&I to BANT is that they are more comprehensive and consider the customer's buying experience and demands. BANT is a solid beginning point, but it's not enough for complex sales settings or long buying journeys.

"Compared to BANT, MEDDIC, CHAMP, and GPCTBA/C&I are less interrogatory. They emphasize talking to customers and understanding their needs rather than asking yes/no questions.”

Be a Consultative Seller

Instead of following a rigid checklist, be it BANT or anything else, focus on following a consultative selling strategy. Here, you’re more than just a salesperson, you’re a consultant that takes the time to:

  • Engage in meaningful conversations, asking questions, and actively listening to prospects
  • Gain a deeper understanding of their needs, motivations, and challenges
  • Act as a trusted advisor and provide tailored solutions that address their specific pain points

If the prospect sees you as an expert who helps them in the first place, they’ll trust your advice. And this gets you closer to closing more deals and being an authority in the customer’s eyes. 

Use a Mutual Action Plan to Develop a Path to Purchase

To improve your sales process, communication, and accountability (of both sides), use a mutual action plan (MAP). It’s a collaborative document that outlines the steps, responsibilities, and timelines agreed upon by both the sales professional and the prospect.

It reduces back-and-forth communication, which is especially important in complex B2B sales with multiple decision-makers. As a result, you’ll get deals that are more transparent and build on trust.

The Sales World Doesn’t Revolve Around BANT, But…

Right now, you have the tools to see whether this sales framework fits for your team and sales process. 

If you ask us, BANT is still relevant in the age of informed buyers. You just have to use it intentionally. Feel free to explore alternative methods and just experiment a bit with the sales process. Sales is about approaching your prospects in the best possible way. 

And remember: any sales framework should be integrated into your CRM. It’s a good practice to keep everything in one place. 

In Close, you can create Custom Activities that give your reps a structured place to store this data. Try it out for free, or watch our on-demand demo to see how it works.

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