Seems strange to me, but recently I have been hearing more about B.A.N.T. from sellers and sales organizations. For those that may not be familiar with this selling approach, you’re lucky. It is supposedly a simple way in which to qualify sales. B.A.N.T. is the tool that is used to determine if time should be invested or not. B is for Budget, A is for Authority, N is for Need, and T is for the Timeline. The idea being that if any of these are not apparent it is not a qualified lead and thus not worth investing your time. In some applications you can accept three out of four of these qualifiers as making the lead worthy to pursue.
Let’s look at the origins of this approach. B.A.N.T. was first used by the IBM sales force in the 1950’s. That was when IBM was a powerhouse selling very expensive computer hardware to buyers that were totally dependent on them. The salesperson was the only source for a prospective buyer to discover required information about their products, specifications, configurations, and pricing. Just like today, those salespeople complained that they were spending a lot of time doing unproductive activities. Unlike today, though, those unproductive activities were talking to prospects that wanted an endless stream of information. And thus B.A.N.T. was born. It was a way of testing to see if their prospects were serious and ready to buy, or if they were just educating themselves on IBM’s equipment. A case of “Don’t start worrying me until you are ready to buy, and then I, as the topflight IBM sales professional, will invest my time with you.” In those days, the competition was practically non-existent, and the buyer was captive to the salesperson and their sales process.
Times have changed – no kidding! Buyers are buying very differently than they did in the 50’s. They no longer need to bother salespeople for information. A mere click of the mouse brings them everything they need to know. In fact, we know that buyers today often progress through more than 50% of their Buying Journey before reaching out to a salesperson. Our research also highlights that the days of a single decision maker (the A in Bant) are long gone. Today’s decisions are made by a dynamic network of influencers.
If you only want to engage late in the buying cycle, then go ahead and use B.A.N.T. By the time the prospect has defined their budget, worked out the authority (if they ever can these days), defined their need, and have a timeline. You can then be assured of a few things:
- You are connecting late in their Buying Journey
- You will have little chance to influence how they are solving their problem and defining their need
- They are already talking to your competitor(s)
- You will have very little chance to differentiate, sell value, or act as a “trusted advisor”
- It will likely be a short sales cycle with big discounts and low win rates
Professional selling today is about meeting the buyer where they are – ideally early in their Buying Journey. We need to reconnect sellers to buyers, and B.A.N.T. is a great way to stay disconnected, or connect at the RFP stage.
Buying today is definitely not the same as it was in the 50’s. It’s now time to let go of selling approaches from a different era. You have likely moved on from the rotary dial phone. It’s also time to move on from BANT.