B2B Sales: could it be time to ban BANT?


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BANT, in case anyone is unfamiliar with the anonym, stands for Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline.    It’s commonly used in the sales qualification process.  But I’ve come across a few too many situations recently where sales people were routinely rejecting marketing leads because they weren’t “BANT Ready”.  I’ve also been pitched by telemarketing agencies offering “BANT-qualified deals”.  I want to explain why that’s a really bad idea.

It’s probably worth confirming that I’m thinking primarily about new business opportunities involving complex, long buying cycle product or service offerings here, rather than simple transactional sales that might be concluded in a single call.

Of course BANT matters…

I have no problem with the idea that, before a complex sale can be concluded, budget, authority, need and timeline all have to exist.   But sales people need to be creating BANT, not expecting BANT to be served up on a plate for them.  Here’s why: by the time budget, authority, need and timeframe have been established, it’s highly likely that another vendor’s fingerprints are all over the deal.

Think back to any unanticipated RFPs you might have received over the past.  How many did you win?  Unless you manage to dramatically reshape the prospect’s requirements, studies suggest that if you win more than 1 in 20 of such deals you’re doing better than average.  The dice are already loaded against you, and you’re just serving as “column fodder” to make up the numbers.

Your sales people need to create BANT not wait for it…

Instead of hoping that fully-qualified, BANT-ready deals can be uncovered, your sales and marketing teams need to be working together to connect with prospects that have unmet needs that they cannot afford to ignore, and for which you happen to have an economically attractive solution.  Even better if your actions serve in some way to create the need, or elevate its importance.

Of the four components of BANT, it’s pretty obvious that need has to come first.  It’s also clear that identifying a need is your entry point into the opportunity.  But your sales people must be careful not to leap straight from an identified need to proposing their solution.  They must use the freshly uncovered need to develop the other three factors, and to establish the economic case for change.

Establishing the economic case for change…

Merely identifying a need is, of course, no guarantee that the prospect will do anything about addressing it.  First, they must establish an economic case for change.   By helping them, you can identify the likely source of budget and authority, and determine whether a time-critical event exists – or can be created.

Start by exploring the consequences of the issue, and identifying who else is affected.  Don’t stop at the first-level implications – keep probing and developing your stakeholder map until you’ve built a complete picture.   Work with the prospect to flesh out the costs or lost revenues associated with the situation – the more specific the better.  

If the issue is relatively new, help them fully understand the potential impact.  If the issue has been obvious to them for a while, find out why they haven’t dealt with it before – and what’s changed to elevate its importance now.   Ask them how the company goes about making recent similar decisions – and what distinguished the projects that were approved from those that stalled.

If your initial contact doesn’t know some of the answers – and hopefully they won’t – take advantage and secure their help to reach out through the organisation to others who are affected.  Remain consultative.  Keep asking questions.  Refuse the temptation to propose your solution until you’ve helped them establish whether there is an economic case for change.

Back to BANT…

The process of establishing the economic case for change, assuming that one exists, enables you to use the need you have uncovered to understand and influence budget, authority and timeframe.  Your pursuit of consequences will enable you to more effectively influence their requirements – and align your capabilities accordingly.  And you’ll be in a much better position to determine if the opportunity is real, whether you want to pursue it, and whether you can win.

Don’t wait for another vendor to establish BANT.  Don’t brief your telemarketing agency to focus primarily on discovering BANT-ready deals.  Don’t let your sales people demand only BANT-qualified leads.  Focus on uncovering the need, developing the requirements, and on developing the economic case for change.  

You’ll find your company in the driving seat in a far higher percentage of deals – and you’ll shorten your sales cycles and increase your win rates at the same time.  Oh, and you’ll be more confident about “no bidding” those unexpected RFPs you had no chance of winning anyway.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Bob Apollo
Bob Apollo is the CEO of UK-based Inflexion-Point Strategy Partners, the B2B sales performance improvement specialists. Following a varied corporate career, Bob now works with a rapidly expanding client base of B2B-focused growth-phase technology companies, helping them to implement systematic sales processes that drive predictable revenue growth.


  1. Bob is sooo right.

    Too often sales people and sales managers look for opportunities where BANT has been fully established. But in doing so they set themselves up for failure and miss the opportunity to increase their close ratio by up to 500%.

    The challenge with focusing on deals where BANT is already established is that the decision maker has already experienced a couple of different types of Trigger Events and as a result is actively engaged in the process of Searching For Alternatives.

    According to Aberdeeen’s Research (Lead Lifecycle Management: Building a Pipeline that Never Leaks, 2009) the average close ratio when chasing these deals is one out of every seven or 16%.

    When you get to decision makers after an initial Trigger Event makes them want to change but before the second Trigger Event that lets them see that they can afford it the typical close ratio is up to 5 times higher.

    The best way to identify the initial Trigger Events that can put you in front of highly motivated decision makers when there is no competition is to analyze the sales you have recently won and see what events triggered these sales.

    If you want to identify the Trigger Events that will get you in front of decision makers when there is no competition you can download my no-charge Won Sales Analysis™ worksheet at http://WonSalesAnalysis.com.

    Feel free to contact me by text/phone (+1.403.874.2998), Skype (Craig.Elias) or email ([email protected]) if you have ANY questions.

  2. Bob,

    Your post highlights another key point about some of the motivations for doing longer-term “drip” marketing, lead generation, and lead nurturing, which is that the point isn’t to “close the sale,” it’s to a. stay in front of the customer, and b. help them define/redefine their needs.

    A process that really works to make this happen (i.e., get prospects BANT-ready) also takes more than simple automation tools (though auto-emails can help).

    It takes a real, defined process, and it typically takes splitting the sales team into two separate specialties–qualifiers and closers–rather than making sales reps do both.

    Specialist sales teams show higher close rates than “generalists.”

    Interesting stuff.



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