Bant Isn’t Enough
When we first engage with them, many of our clients are using BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe) as their standard criteria for evaluating the quality of sales opportunities. While the elements of BANT are important information to know, they don’t really reveal the true quality of an opportunity. More importantly, BANT doesn’t provide sellers with insight into what they can do to win.
When a seller first discovers an opportunity, if the buyer can articulate the elements of BANT explicitly, that seller is arriving relatively late to that buying process. This is true more often today, as buyers typically develop their own vision of a solution before contacting potential providers. A buyer’s ability to describe their budget, who will be involved in their decision process, their particular needs and requirements, and the specific timeframe they intend to make a decision are all clear indicators that the buyer already has a firm picture in their minds about what they want to purchase. And, it’s likely that vision has already been influenced by other suppliers. In other words, a buyer’s ability to describe BANT means that you are most likely way behind. You are probably losing before you even start.
While BANT represents some useful things to know, it doesn’t necessarily provide insight into what a seller should do to win.
That insight comes not just from knowing BANT, but from the elements of the Successful Sales Formula:
Pain X Power X Vision X Value X Collaboration X Compelling Reason to Act = Sale
P – Pain or Problem
Does the customer acknowledge or understand that they have a critical business issue or a potential missed opportunity? Have they admitted to it? If not, this could very well be a new opportunity, waiting to be developed. Perhaps awareness of a potential problem has yet to be well-established in the customer’s mind. If so, then our job is to help them understand that critical business issue or missed opportunity and then motivate them to take action.
P – Power
Do we know who the key people are in that organisation and if they have sufficient influence or authority to make a decision? Are we in contact and in alignment with them? Even if our initial sponsor contacts are not power, can we influence those in authority, and do we have a plan for doing so?
V – Vision
Does the customer understand how our solution could solve their problem? Can they articulate their vision to us, especially in a way that aligns with our competitive differentiators?
V – Value
Does the customer understand specifically what the quantitative benefits are for them to implement the solution? If not, we need to help them to calculate that, so that they recognise the cost of inaction.
C – Collaboration
Are you and the customer working together towards a purchase decision? The best way to tell is by offering a plan for how to evaluate the solution and work with the buyer to refine that plan, in order to mitigate their risks to purchase and make it easier to buy. If they use this plan, then it’s a clear indication that you are working together in a collaborative effort.
C – Compelling Reason to Act
A compelling reason to act (CRTA) is an occurrence where, if the customer doesn’t make a decision, significant consequences will follow. If we can identify a compelling reason to act, we can also present the implications of not making a decision by that date. The CRTA is a potentially very powerful motivator for buyers to move forward with a purchase decision, and the seller who best understands and articulates the CRTA is usually the one who wins.
Assessing the Strength of Your Next Sale
When we work with clients, we provide a tool to help them assess PPVVCC, based on buyer behaviours for each of these different dimensions. It can help you establish threshold qualification levels for including opportunities in your sales forecast. It also enables you to track progress accurately. The closer you get to a well-developed score for each dimension, the more likely you are to win that business. This differs from BANT, which only reveals whether you are early or late to that buying process.
Rather than using only BANT to qualify opportunities, we recommend first asking yourself what you know in terms of the Successful Sales Formula. This will give you earlier and more useful indicators of your chances of winning business.
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