Getting off the BANT wagon

Salespeople are in a hurry these days. They can’t afford to waste time on tyre kickers, they have targets to make – so if they get a lead it needs to be qualified. BANT qualified. If there’s no budget, no timeframe, no need, if the contact hasn’t got the authority – don’t waste your energy on them.

After all, in this time of ubiquitous information 53% (or 62%, or whatever random statistic is bandied about with gay abandon and no factual backing) of the buying process is completed before a prospect calls a sales person.

In fact soon we won’t need sales people at all. Just let marketing engage with prospects digitally and get buyers to buy electronically and those pesky salespeople will have to get a real job.

Or perhaps not.

Do budgets emerge fully grown like Athena springing from Zeus’ skull? Are timeframes magically conjured up from sheep’s entrails?

Or in real life does someone set budgets, determine timeframes, assess needs – and prioritise which needs are the most, well, neediest? And do some people possess intrinsic authority? Maybe we could – I don’t know – call them? Before they set a budget.

An awful lot of things happen before a BANT qualified opportunity is born. In a B2B situation, there are probably many people involved in;

  • agreeing a business problem is of high enough priority to do something about it
  • looking at high level ways of fixing it
  • deciding on a particular approach
  • delegating authority to someone to investigate and choose a solution
  • researching different vendors
  • researching prices and timeframes
  • setting budgets and timeframe

All of this takes time and in doing the necessary research most companies need help – and often they get that help from other vendors. So if all that has happened before you hear about an opportunity there’s a good chance you’re arriving at the party too late. At worst, the company never even calls you, but at least you’re secure in your ignorance. There was a deal, you never heard about it, someone else won it.

At best you’re involved in a beauty contest where you’re saying “pick me, pick me”. Sometimes you’ll win, but more likely you’re there to make up the numbers, so when they choose the vendor they really want – and who they were working with before there was a BANT – they can say they’ve gone to market to compare prices.Pick me

BANT qualified leads aren’t intrinsically bad, but you can waste an awful lot of time and money chasing opportunities you’re never going to win. I’d much rather have the opportunity to help solve a business problem, consult in setting the budget, influence the priorities and work with the people who own the business problem and have the authority.

Give me the choice between speaking to someone for the first time when they already have a budget and a timeframe or speaking to them when they know they have a problem but they haven’t worked out how to fix it yet and I’ll take the latter any time. It may take longer but I’ll have a much higher close rate and I’ll avoid discounting and selling on price.

Steve Hall

I help companies that sell B2b to win more business - particularly those that sell to medium and large organisations. Among other things I help them gain access at executive level so they can sell more strategically directly to senior decision makers. I also consult to B2B sales people who want to learn from my many mistakes so they can sell more.

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