How to Use the BANT Framework to Qualify Sales Leads

The BANT framework is a sales qualification method that uses four factors: Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe. It’s great for saving your team time.

The SaaS sales process takes up to six months on average, and nearly half of all B2B sales cycles take seven months or more. When you're doing B2B SaaS sales, there's no extra time to waste on leads who aren't likely to buy. 

Qualifying leads is an essential step that helps you focus your sales efforts on the right people each day. The BANT framework is a sales qualification method that works time and time again for many sales reps in the B2B industry.

We'll explain what BANT is and how you can use it to gain qualified leads. Then, we'll break down the pros and cons of the BANT framework.

What Is BANT?

BANT is a sales methodology used in the lead qualification process. Using the BANT framework, sales teams decide whether a prospect is worth their time based on four key factors: Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe.

When you implement the BANT method immediately after lead generation, your team can complete more sales cycles faster. You'll be able to determine who's most likely to make a purchase — and weed out the ones who likely won't — before you spend weeks or months on follow-ups and one-on-ones.

How to Use the BANT Framework to Qualify Sales Leads

The BANT framework is simple to use. As your sales reps engage with leads on various channels, they need to uncover the answers to four key questions:

  • Budget: Can the prospect afford your SaaS product?
  • Authority: Does the prospect have enough power to approve or influence a purchase?
  • Need: Does the prospect have a need your software can solve?
  • Time frame: Does your prospect's ideal timeline for buying match your ideal sales cycle length?

If you can answer "yes" to at least three of these questions, your lead is likely worth pursuing. Those that meet all four criteria are excellent fits for your sales cycle and should be prioritized. 

And while you may not fully give up on leads who only meet two criteria or less, you can choose to use less time-intensive sales tactics, like email automation or social media retargeting, to keep them engaged. This way, if they turn out to be a dead end, you won't stress about wasted effort.

So how do you go about answering each of the core questions in the BANT framework? We'll provide examples of indirect questions you can ask leads and explain the importance of each criteria.

1. Budget

BANT: woman comparing data from her computer vs. her notes

When your leads are shopping for solutions, the amount of cash they have will greatly influence their final purchase decision. If the cost of your product doesn't match your prospect's budget — or meeting your prospect's needs requires upgrades they can't afford — their likelihood of purchasing drops. The best leads are the ones who can afford the ideal solution you have to offer.

To get more insight into your prospect's budget, you can ask:

  • How much does the problem you're facing currently cost you?
  • How much would the problem cost you over the next year?
  • Have you tried any similar SaaS products? How much did they cost?
  • How much do you expect to spend on a solution?
  • What return on investment do you expect once you find a solution?
  • We've calculated that our software can save you $X per year. Does this meet your expectations?

2. Authority

Often, the people researching software and collecting quotes don't play a direct role in the decision-making process. Some of your leads may simply be in charge of passing along objective information. When you spend a considerable amount of time on leads with no authority, you may be wasting your breath.

To ensure you're working directly with decision-makers — or, at the very least, people who can strongly influence a purchase decision — your salespeople can ask leads these questions:

  • Who will use our software?
  • Do you want to invite anyone else to our next meeting?
  • What was the decision-making process like last time you bought a similar product?

Even if your contact isn't a primary decision-maker or influencer, these questions can encourage them to put you in contact with the right person.

3. Need

Discovering what your prospect's needs and pain points are will help you decide if your software is actually a good fit. If not, your solution probably isn't what they're looking for, which means they likely won't buy. 

Even if they do make a purchase, their lifetime value probably isn't very high. Customers aren't satisfied with products that don't fulfill their needs for long. During the sales process, it's best to prioritize shoppers who can fully benefit from your product and become loyal, long-term clients.

To uncover your prospects' needs, you can ask:

  • What are your top business priorities?
  • What challenges are you currently facing?
  • Have you tried any solutions? How have they worked out?
  • If you don't solve your current problem, what will happen?
  • What would ideally happen once you do resolve the problem?

4. Timeframe

BANT: two businessmen working together

The more urgent your prospect's need is, the faster you can close. This can help you fulfill your goal of keeping your sales cycle as short as possible. An immediate need means your lead will spend less time researching your competitors and speed through the SaaS sales funnel (as long as you keep them engaged). 

But as long as your prospect's timeline meets or falls below the average length of your sales process, they can be an excellent qualified lead.

With questions like these, you can determine your prospect's timeline:

  • When would you like to see a solution in place?
  • Do you have any goals for the next quarter that our solution could help you meet?
  • Do you have any upcoming projects that our software can help streamline?

Pros and Cons of Using BANT

The BANT framework is widely deemed effective for B2B SaaS sales. But while it may be a great sales qualification methodology for some teams, it may not be the best option for others. We'll help you weigh the pros and cons of BANT below.

Pros

BANT carries three key benefits that may make it a good fit for your sales team.

1. BANT Helps Your Team Save Time

When you start to prioritize the most relevant leads, your sales process can go by much more smoothly. The BANT lead qualification process effectively weeds out prospects who may cause major bottlenecks or be dead ends in your sales cycle. As a result, you may see improvements in SaaS metrics like your customer acquisition cost since you won't have to spend as much time or money convincing leads that you're the perfect fit.

2. BANT Is Flexible

The BANT framework is applicable to a wide range of B2B companies. No matter what type of software you sell, you can shape the questions you ask to make them relevant to your leads. Even beyond the B2B industry, the four components of the BANT acronym are factors that businesses need to consider.

3. BANT Is Reliable

BANT is a proven framework that salespeople have used for decades. It can reliably help you determine who the most qualified leads are.

Cons

Created by IBM in the 1960s, BANT isn't exactly a modern lead qualification process. Here are two reasons why BANT isn't always the best choice.

1. BANT Can Waste Your Prospects' Time

Modern technologies make it possible for leads to do extensive research about your product before they reach out. By the time you generate a lead, there's a good chance your lead has already learned a significant amount about your business using search engines, social media, and more. 

BANT can be more about helping your business save time than helping your leads, which isn't ideal in an industry that thrives on customer-focused consultative selling.

To avoid this pitfall, practice active listening when asking questions. Instead of just using prospects' answers to determine if you want to work with them, use their answers to help them find the best solution for their needs, too.

2. BANT Isn't the Fastest Lead Qualification Process Around

While BANT is bound to save you time in the long run, it's not the fastest option you have. Many SaaS companies now use sales management software that automatically scores their leads based on their likelihood of purchase. This automation ensures you don't have to touch the lead qualification process at all.

However, going through the BANT process can allow for more accurate lead scoring, since you can account for qualitative factors. For example, your software may not meet a prospect's budget needs, but they may be willing to be flexible for the right company.

Speed Up Your Sales Cycle With BANT

The BANT methodology can help your sales team focus on the most high-quality leads by revealing key insights about prospects' budgets, authority, needs, and timeline. When you know the right questions to ask, you can effectively determine which leads meet your criteria and which leads shouldn't be your priority.

As you enter the next stage of the sales cycle with your qualified leads, you'll start building stronger relationships with your prospects and scheduling one-on-one meetings. 

With ServiceBell, you can make live meetings as convenient as possible for your leads. Whenever they have time, they can tap on a widget on any of your webpages and jump on a live video call with you, no matter where they are in the world. Create your free ServiceBell account to continue driving leads closer to a purchase.

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