Within many sales strategies, BANT—Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe—has been a handy salesperson tool for decades. Throughout the world sales reps keep it firmly in mind, and use it as a mental checklist in qualifying an opportunity. Sales managers routinely remind their sales team members of it so they’ll use it.
Each of these components, though, contains its own checklist of data so that each data point will be fully satisfied.
Right off the bat, when qualifying a prospect company, you want to know if there is adequate budget available for your product or service. Put plainly: do they have the money? This is, of course, the oldest and most basic point of prospect qualification. The salesperson should find out if budget is available for this purchase, very early in the sales process.
There are many ways to pose this question so it won’t be awkward. You can smoothly ask something like, “If our solution solves your needs, will funding be available to move it forward?”
It’s a very good idea, at this stage, to also discover your prospect company’s decision-making process. Gather as much detail as you can because, as the opportunity moves forward, you’re probably going to have to gently coax your contact to push it through to approval.
You also want to get this one answered right up front: Does your contact have the authority to make this purchase? Or are they merely a gatekeeper?
In most cases, the person you’re in contact with will not have purchase authority, or will only have partial authority. They will often have to submit the purchase to others for budget approval. If this is the case, you should find out who is the ultimate authority or authorities. In conversation with your contact, you can then work out if the person you’re working with can deal directly with the approving person, or if you’ll be needed to talk to the authority, also.
If your contact will do all the negotiation with the budget authority, make sure you supply them with all necessary information to bring the deal to a close.
Need is prime motivator of this opportunity through all steps of approval and to a close. The more intense the need, the more your contact—and all others involved in the purchase approval—will want your product or service, and will push for it.
The establishment of need will, of course, be partly accomplished by the prospect company. But in a greater degree it will be up to you. Most of the time the company will begin the process considering that they require a product or service such as yours—but your job is to discover all the reasons behind this need, and how deep it truly is. You are then tasked with clearly showing the prospect company how well your product satisfies that need. This is actually the crux of closing the sale, and as such is a vital part of sales strategies.
Your contact may not even know the reasons behind a need, simply that the company needs a product or service like yours. You should get your contact to find out, or find out yourself.
As part of all the qualifying information you are gathering, you’ll want to know how long this sale will take to close. Usually a company will have already established at least a rough timeframe for purchase.
One major reason you want to know this right up front is that they may not even be looking to buy for a year or more—they’re just gathering information right now. You’ll want to make a note as to when they’re going to be serious shoppers.
If they say that they’re looking at buying some time in future, any salesperson worth their salt is going to politely but firmly see what they can do to move that timeframe closer to the present.
Such a move is dependent on the specific circumstances of the prospect company, and your sales skill. It also ties right in with need.
CRM and Sales Process
Budget, authority, need and timeframe—BANT—are 4 essential elements for qualifying a prospect. If all 4 of these factors are satisfied to company standards, the lead is then moved into opportunity management within the sales process.
But as an opportunity moves through the sales process, further and continuous qualification will be needed. A robust CRM solution, totally adaptable to a company’s sales process, makes it possible for salespeople to keep all necessary factors in place and move the highest percentage of opportunities possible through to a close.