ThinkLogic has been in the lead generation industry for more than 10 years and we have spent a lot of time on the phone with Marketing Managers and salespeople discussing marketing strategies that correlate with sales objectives. One of the questions we always ask is for the salesperson to define what they consider to be a qualified lead and one of the most common answers we get is the definition of BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timing).
Yet the fact is that each organization has their own unique purchasing process and those criteria will actually be irrelevant if followed adamantly. Buyers have changed, but BANT hasn’t. So some of the BANT criteria for your hottest leads will most likely be missing. As this industry evolves, we need to start redefining the meaning of quality leads and until we do, BANT will be one of the reasons why lead conversion will remain a problem. In this article, we are going to discuss everything you need to know about BANT and why it NEEDS a bit of renovation.
Unless you’re selling something that is a line item for your customers, it’s highly likely that budget may not exist until after the business case has been built. Why? Because when the budget was developed 6 or 7 months ago, they hadn’t recognized the need to solve the problem – or even that the problem existed. But it can also point to a larger problem that needs to be solved that may be pulling funding from across lines of business, so it’s not evident where the money is coming from.
Budget is no longer a static criterion that sellers can expect to see in place. This makes it a bit irrelevant as a qualifier. Perhaps it would be better to evaluate the company to determine if they could buy from you if they decide it’s a worthwhile choice. Company characteristics might be better drivers than budget. Then again, that puts the responsibility on your company to do the heavy lifting to make it so.
Authority is also a rather dynamic term these days. Considering that most of the people we have spoken to turn first to colleagues and peers for referrals, their authority shouldn’t be under estimated, either. In fact, think cultivation; it’s much more productive. Salespeople all want to speak to the person that signs on the dotted line. But, guess what? That person isn’t usually the one building a relationship with your company or reading your content, attending your webinars etc. Nearly all the executives who have signing authority are too busy to do their own research or talk to vendors until the short list is formed. They put that responsibility onto their staff.
Based on experience, there are 7 to 21 people involved in a complex buying decision. Maybe only 1 of those people can sign off, but if a number of them say “NO” then you’re out. Understanding the hierarchy of the buying committee and what each of them cares most about is how you should be viewing “authority”. Choose wisely based on influence level.
This one is probably the most valid of the BANT criteria for without it there’s no possibility of making a sale. But think carefully about how you define this; is it a need or really a want? How important is the problem that’s being solved in the scheme of things? For the buyer? In relation to company objectives?
There is not doubt that this criteria needs to be there. This being said, it’s important to realize that it may not be like what you expect. Developing buying insights about how the different members of the buying committee view the issues they’re trying to resolve is critical to aligning conversations that are relevant – as well as for lead qualification.
Salespeople are driven by urgency. They need to close deals in short windows. One salesperson told us recently that without an established deadline, he wasn’t interested. Salespeople have quotas to meet at the end of the month. But, given the way the other criteria have changed, there needs to be a plan.
Business needs evolve quickly. There can be a long period of feet dragging, but once everything clicks into place, then things can happen pretty fast. The issue here is who’s going to get everything to click into place? If not you, then it will be a competitor that sees what could be hidden potential. Rather than relying on the prospect for the urgency, perhaps that’s something you should be bringing to the table by showing them the value of the impact they’re unable to have today—without our solution.
The Need for Dynamic Criteria
The main difference between what worked in the past and what works now is how dynamic the business environment has become. Change is inevitable. We need a qualified lead criterion that can continually adapt in response to changing buyer situations and behavior patterns. How? By shifting focus from budget and time frames to buyers needs, issues, pain points and level of interest. Doesn’t that make a lot more sense? With these factors as key indicators for qualified leads, you’re most likely going to see much better results in terms of actual lead to sale conversions.
We at ThinkLogic have designed a dynamic method that addresses the issues in BANT. It enables salespeople to have a clearer picture of their prospects and allows them to position themselves inline with what the buyers are looking for, creating higher chances of actual sales. Get in touch with us today and learn how we have helped several companies generate highly qualified leads with our Intent Based Lead Generation method.