BANT Methodology: Optimizing an Old Method in a New Way
Google ‘sales methodologies’ and you’ll be inundated with options: Old ones. New ones. Modern takes on classic methods. And LOTS of acronyms. But which ones work best? And when do you use them?
Applying BANT at the very beginning of your sales process can be the very best and most efficient way of setting you and your sales reps up for success.
What is the BANT sales methodology?
In a nutshell, BANT helps your salesforce to be efficient. With a fundamental list of questions that determines how qualified a prospect is to work with, your team will know where to prioritize their efforts. After all, you don’t want them wasting their precious time and resources on dead-end leads!
Can your prospect afford your product, service, or solution? If the answer is no, then that might be a dealbreaker! (more on that later)
Who has the final say? Is the person you’re speaking to the right point of contact? These days it’s often more than one person, so you may need to connect with more than one individual.
Have you identified their problems and believe that you’re able to provide them with a solution?
What is their timeline and can you realistically work within it? The tighter the deadline the higher priority your lead becomes.
The trouble with BANT
In the decades since its conception, BANT has received a lot of negative attention. Some believe the BANT sales method is too blunt and not suited to today’s sales climate. They’re saying it’s not enough, that it’s antiquated.
Some even say that using BANT is a surefire way to earn the label of ‘sleazy salesperson’! We say, if that happens, you’re not applying the BANT methodology properly.
Maybe it’s because many take the checklist too literally. For one, the steps should never be applied in order.
After all, how do you think your lead will feel if the first thing you ask about is their budget? Do you think they’ll feel like a valued customer or a walking, talking potential sale?
At the end of the day, the problem with BANT is the same problem with any sales methodology.
Let’s make something clear.
There is no one sales methodology that drives magical results.
Without the right attitude and mindset – from you and in turn, your salesforce – a sales method is just a sales method: A framework. A checklist. A set of questions.
How you behave as you implement your sales methodology – instinctively, intuitively, and humanistically – determines its success.
BANT sales methodology: what not to do
Imagine that you’re on a first date. Your drinks have arrived, you’ve placed your food order, and you’re face to face with a potential partner. You whip out your notepad and pen, take a deep breath, and start rattling off the following questions, barely giving your date a chance to answer one, before launching into the next.
“How many partners have you had?”
“Why did your last relationship end?”
“Do you want children one day?”
“If so, when would you like to start trying to conceive?”
“When can we schedule a second date?”
If they’ve got any sense, your date will look at you wide-eyed and bolt for the door, thinking, that wasn’t a date, that was an interrogation!
You might have worked through a checklist of scripted questions, but your chances of a second date are probably slim to none – regardless of your date’s answers.
Because you neglected to actually get to know your date and didn’t discover the things that really matter.
- Did they make you laugh?
- Do you share the same views and values?
- Do you have things in common?
- Are you looking for the same thing?
- Was there enough of a connection to warrant a second date?
- Is this a relationship that you want to pursue and if so, is the feeling mutual?
This may seem like a silly analogy, but it’s not much different than meeting with a prospect and carrying out a conversion that looks a little like this:
You: Hi, thanks for meeting with me. So, you’re looking to upgrade the climate system in your office building?
Prospect: That’s right.
You: What kind of air conditioners are you looking for?
Prospect: I’m not sure yet; we’re still exploring our options.
You: And when do you want them installed?
Prospect: Well, I’m not sure. I mean, we’ve only just started looking into it. But I guess...before the end of the year?
You: End of the year. Great! How much do you have to spend?
Prospect: Oh! (nervous laughter) I’m not quite sure. I don’t deal with the financial side of things.
You: Who does?
Prospect: My manager, Cindy.
You: Ah, okay. Well… do you want to speak to Cindy and see if she wants to set up a meeting?
Prospect: ... sure? I’ll get back to you.
You can almost hear the deep, movie-narrator voice:
“The prospect never got back to you.”
And are you surprised?
If you’d treated that meeting less like an inquisition, you’d have found out that the prospect’s current climate system is no longer suitable for the building. Since renovating, they’ve realized that their current air conditioners are too small to cover the new open-plan layout. Your prospect thinks larger air conditioning units might be the answer but is afraid that they might cause cold drafts in some areas and provide inadequate coverage in others.
What an amazing opportunity this would have been to educate your prospect on the cutting-edge ‘Still Air’ technology that your company has revolutionized! They would have been very interested in an innovation that uses thousands of micro-holes to eliminate cold drafts and make sure air is dispersed evenly throughout every corner of the room.
But, guess what? You’re probably never going to have that face-to-face with Cindy because you treated BANT like a checklist.
This leads us to the ‘how’ of gathering the information you need to truly qualify your lead without losing them halfway through the process.
From list to listening: using the BANT sales method correctly
BANT is a good framework for getting a basic idea of where your prospect stands and whether they seem like a suitable fit. But the keyword there is ‘basic’.
Going deeper into the sales process, and determining whether you should pursue them as a customer, will require you to take things to the next level. You’ve determined that they are a qualified prospect. But why?
In addition to BANT, there’s GPC. GPC stands for Goals, Plans, and Challenges.
The following questions will help you gain a deeper understanding of what your lead’s needs are and how exactly your product, service, or solution can help them:
- What are the goals and ambitions of your lead and the company they work for?
- How do they plan on achieving these goals? (Then ask yourself if your product, service, or solution fits into their plan – and answer honestly!)
- Are they certain their plan is water-tight or do they have doubts?
- What challenges do they expect to face?
This is your golden opportunity to shine, not as a salesperson, but as an expert in your field. This is your chance to really listen, and then answer based on your training and all your experience with past clients.
Only 3% of people consider salespeople to be trustworthy. As someone in sales, that achingly low number might sting. So how do you prove to a lead that they can trust you?
How you behave trumps what you say. Honesty, empathy, communication, and genuine interest are the secret ingredients to making BANT work.
8 ways to optimize BANT methodology
- Remember that the qualifying process does not consist of a memorized script, but a two-way conversation.
- Don’t put BANT on a pedestal. It’s not a sales bible, but a rough guide.
- Don’t rush the qualifying process. Take time to save time. If you rush the qualifying part of the process then you risk making the wrong call and wasting time further down the pipeline.
- Remember, your client isn’t on the stand. They don’t need to prove anything. BANT is merely a tool that lets you learn more.
- If your lead happens to be a bad fit for you or you for them, don’t stress. Only 50% of your prospects will end up qualifying.
- Don’t just ask for the information you need to know. Ask questions about what your prospect needs.
- Be solutions-led. If you can determine your lead’s needs and challenges and show them that you have the solutions, it doesn’t matter what their budget is. Once they recognize the value of your product or service, they may be willing to move the goalposts.
- It’s less about hunting down the person with authority, and more about nurturing engagement with several individuals. People talk. Treat every lead you deal with equally and respectfully – even those that don’t control the purse strings – and they’ll be more likely to want to book that meeting, or encourage the individual who does have the authority, to meet with you.
The biggest thing to take away today is that when it comes to BANT, the checklist may stay the same, but your behavior and mindset don’t have to.
You can develop improved ways of working by adopting new mindsets and changing the way you act – and this makes more of a difference than any sales methodology.