Some people think that a sale can be classified as a success whenever a customer pays for a product or service, but the truth is that there’s something that many salespeople overlook and it is selling to the right customer. Lead qualification is a critical part of the sales process since it helps you differentiate those prospects who are more likely to purchase from those who are only exploring. Working on the right leads wisely helps you make good customers and not just to generate billing. Selling to the wrong customer can end in frustration, not to mention tremendous support costs, complaints, refunds and, worst of all, a bad reputation for your business.
What is BANT, and what is it for?
BANT is the acronym for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe. BANT was originally a lead qualification framework developed by IBM. It is useful for evaluating which potential customers have the best chance to generate a sale. This qualification methodology allows for resource optimization, focusing your sales team's effort principally on those leads who are more likely to buy. The technique evaluates four aspects:
You shouldn't just know if your lead has some budget assigned to the purchase, this aspect concentrates on discovering if the prospect has the economic capacity to pay for your product or service. For B2B or SaaS companies, cash flow may be relevant since payments are recurrent, unlike other products that require high investments. At this point, it is critical to investigate the prospect and estimate its financial profile, making the right questions, or using some tools to research. Knowing how they are solving their problems and if they are paying for other products or substitute services like yours, can also give you an idea of their capacity to pay.
This element focuses on the purchasing authority and the role of the person with whom you have contact in the sales process. You may have the initial luck of getting a phone call with the decision maker, but it is common for you to meet people who perform all the research and validation and who are responsible for forwarding this information to decision makers; who usually is not a single person. If in the beginning, you do not have direct contact with who will decide the purchase, it does not mean that the lead is not a good one, just that you may have to adjust your strategy and validate the other BANT elements before dedicating resources to the process.
This is perhaps the most important criterion you should evaluate since you must confirm that your lead really needs what you are offering. It is essential to go beyond just detecting purchase intent by investigating if your product or service really solves the problem or need of the prospect.
When your product really fits into what the customer is looking for, their priorities can potentially help you overcome budget obstacles. When a buyer really needs something, he finds a way to pay for it. At this point, your honesty is essential because many salespeople may fall into the mistake of promising things that the product cannot meet just for getting the sale and this is when you only get an unhappy customer, who can easily harm your reputation. A bad review is a significant risk, especially when you are a B2B or SaaS where the opinions of others influence the buyers.
This element can help you prioritize your efforts and set appropriate follow-up strategies. It is not the same if your prospect anticipates solving their problem in 6 months or if it is a priority and everything must conclude in less than a month; in the last case, you should try to schedule meetings and demonstrations reaching the decision makers in a short time to take advantage of the urgency. It is also essential to know the customer's purchase process to evaluate how to handle the sales process.
How to apply the BANT in your sales process?
You can adjust the BANT framework according to your business model and define some specific questions for each concept looking to qualify your leads quickly. You can ask these questions through web forms, email, or phone calls. A good lead might not always score well in all aspects, so you should design a complete scoring process according to your ideal customer. When you define a questionnaire, you can have a practical and unified way of choosing how to focus your sales team. Dedicating more effort to the best leads not only can increase sales but also it can allow you to get loyal and enduring customers, which can help you to grow with suggestions and not merely demanding support and sending complaints. You can also use the BANT results to refine your offer for each prospect, personalizing some critical elements will allow you to meet his expectations better.
For B2B or SaaS companies, qualification through phone calls is usually advantageous since you can make questions easily in the conversation, and you can qualify your prospect in a short time. You can also add other criteria that can help you improve your customer's profile.
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