I just read, and commented on, a thought-provoking article titled Lead Gen: A proposed replacement for BANT. Written by David Green, the premise of the piece is that the BANT formula, for the most part, is no longer relevant. Green’s article has some great advice on how to apply a new model with courtesy and relevance.
To refresh your memory, BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timing. For some time, these factors were considered the four criteria that best demonstrated that a specific individual or company was a qualified lead, and not just a raw inquirer or possible future prospect. In a push marketing environment, BANT is a very useful tool for ensuring that sales reps are working with qualified leads and not wasting their time on those that are not in a position to buy in the near future. Inquirers who are currently unqualified can be put back into the drip marketing pool.
BANT has another virtue in that it gives the marketing and sales departments a good way to measure their B2B lead generation success. Since sales departments shouldn’t be dealing with (or even seeing) raw inquiries, the amount and cost of qualified leads is usually a more important lead metric.
However, one of the primary reasons to drop the BANT formula is because it assumes that you have a telephone conversation with the prospect. In the age of online marketing, this is not always a valid assumption.
For example, you may collect many of your lead responses on a form that contains only the name, company and email address. You don’t collect the phone number and qualification data because you know that every additional piece of data you require will depress response. In this case, you may not have a phone number and likely won’t be able to capture the details necessary to establish whether the prospect has a budget or immediate need for your offer.
So how do you handle lead qualification in a in a world where BANT no longer fits? For some companies, this can be a fairly minor change; others may require a complete overhaul. Here are some ideas on how to make the transition:
- Adopt a pull marketing mentality. By this I mean that you switch your focus from outbound to inbound, offer lots of good content, and let your prospects self-qualify. This will require a much higher quantity of inquiries at the top of the funnel, but make the rest of the lead qualification process more efficient. Also, you can use pull marketing to dramatically reduce your cost per lead.
- Let your prospects percolate. By this I mean that you don’t try to “push them” into buying something as soon as they respond but rather let them come along at their own pace.
- Promote higher-level offers. A higher-level (demo, free trial, gift) offer is something that will entice a prospect to provide his or her phone number, which you can then use to fully qualify the lead.
- Always provide options. You can’t predict where a prospect is on the buying cycle, so provide multiple options, including lower-level offers requiring only an email address and higher-level offers requiring a phone number and possibly qualification questions.
- Make it easy to get in touch with you. In the pull marketing model, you have no idea when each prospect will be ready to engage with you, but when they are, make sure there is a convenient and easy way to facilitate this process.
- Conduct some research. If you are selling a high-ticket item, you can increase your lead qualification and close rates by learning about the company (via their website) and the individual (via LinkedIn) before contacting a prospect.
These B2B lead qualification principles are valid whether or not you choose to switch from the BANT model.