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Understanding BANT: A Framework for Qualifying Leads and Closing Deals

How the BANT sales process will help you streamline lead qualification in 4 simple steps.

How the BANT sales process will help you streamline lead qualification in 4 simple steps.

In a variety of industries—particularly in business-to-business (B2B) marketing—salesrepresentatives just don’t have time to keep following up with potential clients that may or may not make a purchase.

The BANT lead qualification framework can be particularly useful for representatives selling their services to a business, and it can also be helpful when qualifying individual customers. BANT allows for a more thorough qualification process so that sales teams can focus on prospects that are most likely to convert into customers.

What is BANT?

The BANT framework is a sales qualification methodology that sales reps use to decide whether or not a prospect is worth pursuing. A prospect is a potential customer or client, and the BANT qualification process allows sales and marketing teams to determine how likely it is that the prospect will make a purchase.

The BANT sales framework was first used at IBM in the 1950s, and it has remained incredibly popular due to its simplicity and ease. The acronym, BANT, stands for budget, authority, need, and timeline.

BANT is a lead sales qualification framework that comes into play right after the lead generation phase of the sales pipeline. When you’ve generated interest in your product or service, you can use BANT to determine how likely your prospect is to follow through.

Once a sales rep takes their prospect through each step of the BANT framework, the prospect is then called a qualified lead. Once a prospect becomes a qualified lead, they are significantly more likely to become clients or customers of your business.

Approving qualified prospects can help your team know where their marketing and sales materials are going to be the most successful, which can make the most of your budget. Sales qualification frameworks like BANT are particularly useful in longer sales cycles or when you are required to balance multiple prospects concurrently, where you don’t want to waste time following a lead that won’t come to anything.

How sales reps use BANT to qualify prospects

The 4 BANT criteria can be broken down into a variety of questions that a sales rep can ask themselves before approaching a prospect. From there, you can craft your own BANT lead qualification questions to use on a sales call or in an in-person meeting.

Settle on the prospect’s budget

The first step to qualify prospects in the BANT framework is to determine the budget. This can immediately help you understand whether your prospect can afford your product or services, and from there you’ll be able to see whether their expectations are in line with what you can offer.

What kind of budget does your prospect have?

Understanding how much money your prospect is planning to spend at your business can immediately rule out a prospect—if they are not looking to offer sufficient funds, then they are not the right client for you.

However, if it looks like their budget would work well for your business, the next step is to determine whether they are working with a predetermined or flexible budget. They might have a firm number already set, with no feasible movement, but they might equally have a range of possible figures in mind.

If you want to find out whether or not you can ask for more money, you should find out your prospect’s budget criteria. Where are they looking to allocate funds? What would move the figure toward the top end of the scale?

How much has your prospect spent before?

If your prospect has previously worked with other companies before, knowing what they have spent in the past can show you what they might want to spend with your business.

If they were dissatisfied with the previous company’s work, it’s a good idea to work out whether it was an issue of budget limitations or mismatched priorities.

What is your prospect’s expected ROI?

When a prospect spends money on your product or service, they will need to make a certain return on investment (ROI). By getting to know how they will measure ROI—and what value they are looking to get from your work together—you’ll know if their expectations for the project or product are reasonable.

Identify the decision-maker

When negotiating with your prospect, you’ll need to tailor your pitch depending on who the decision-maker is. This means understanding who has the final purchasing decision and what their decision criteria look like. In the BANT framework, this is known as the authority component; identify who has purchasing power and what they are looking for as a decision-maker.

Is your point of contact the economic buyer?

Your point of contact is likely going to be just one of many decision-makers who will have a say in the buying process. Within a wider team, the economic buyer is the ultimate decision-maker (often the CEO or CFO), so identifying who holds that role is key to knowing where to direct your energy.

Sometimes, it can be extremely helpful for sales reps to set up a meeting with a prospect’s wider team, so they can get a clearer idea of where their executive leadership’s priorities lie.

Who will be using the product?

There are other key players in the buying process that the final decision-maker will look to for input before they make their decision. Perhaps the most important of these is the team or individual within their organization who will be using the product.

They will inevitably be involved at some level in the decision-making process, but by speaking directly with the product user and understanding what they need or want, you can optimize your approach.

What will the decision-making process look like?

Asking about the wider decision-making process can allow sales reps to identify stakeholders beyond the user and the decision-maker. There will likely be around 6 to 10 individuals involved, and your sales team will have to convince all of them that what you’re selling is right for them.

Keep a clear record of everyone involved, including job titles, decision-making roles, and designated priorities. This can help sales teams build a detailed sales process that foregrounds the prospect’s needs, setting you up for success.

Understand the prospect’s pain points

The third criterion in BANT is the prospect’s need. If you can identify pain points that already exist within your prospect’s business, you can market your product directly as a solution.

It’s also useful to know how urgently your prospect needs a solution and how much your product could change their business.

What challenge will your product address?

You’ll know right away if you’ll be genuinely useful to your prospect when you discuss the issues that they are currently facing or things that are missing from their business model. If your product will not help them, then understanding that early on will give you more time to focus on leads that are a better fit.

Once you have confirmed that you can offer a viable solution, you can begin to learn more about your prospect’s specific pain points.

What has your prospect already done to address this problem?

Start by asking your prospect about what they’ve done previously to address their problem. For example, let’s say you’re selling a website design service to a small business. Your prospect might have previously worked with a company that made their website look good, but their customers are now having issues using the interface.

By understanding the problems with their previous contractor—whether it be loading time, too much copy on the page, or conflicting calls to action—you will gain information on how to create a successful solution.

Asking how the problem has been addressed in the past can show where previous approaches fell short, and you can learn from these mistakes. The more information you have at this point, the more likely you are to present a winning solution.

How will it impact their work if they don’t act now?

You’ll get a good idea of how pressing your prospect’s issue is by finding out what the consequences may be if their problem is not addressed. By gauging your prospect’s priorities, you’ll be able to see how much pressure you will likely be under and how motivated your prospect will be to solve the problem at hand.

Different individuals within the wider organization might have very different ideas of the importance of solving the issue, so it’s a good idea to try to get a sense of the range of perspectives. If those with greater decision-making authority are not as worried about the task at hand compared to your point of contact, it may make progress more difficult in the future.

Determine the prospect’s timeline

The final category of BANT is the timeline. Determining your prospect’s timeline involves figuring out how long it will take your prospect to decide if they’d like to work with you and what kind of deadline you’ll be working with if the deal goes ahead.

When did the pain point first appear?

When addressing a prospect’s need, you might be dealing with a problem that has only just become apparent, or you might be called into work on a long-standing issue.

Knowing when your prospect became aware of the pain point can help you understand if finding a solution is a high priority for them. If you are addressing a new development, and the prospect is already looking for a solution, it is likely to be a higher priority than a project that has been ticking away for some time without much movement.

Is there a deadline for implementing a solution?

Prospects can often waver on providing a firm deadline, but by having an idea of when they can expect results, you can help your team prioritize the leads that are likely to make a purchase in the near future.

Understanding a potential project timeline also gives you the chance to work out whether your team will be able to align their work with the prospect’s expected ROI in the desired timeframe.

Is the prospect’s timeline realistic?

The timeline component of BANT encompasses both the projected timeline for deliverables and the timeline for the sales process. As we’ve seen above, they might need a solution sooner than what’s reasonably possible for your team.

But it’s equally important to figure out how long their decision-making process usually takes. You don’t want to follow a lead that will take too much longer than your average sales process, because you will waste valuable time and money in the process.

Evaluate success using digital tools

There is no formal evaluation stage within the BANT sales qualification methodology, but collecting prospect data for analysis can help you optimize your lead qualification process. Centralizing the information gathered by the team allows everyone to keep on top of active leads.

A good CRM platform allows your team to track key performance indicators (KPIs), like how many qualified leads convert into actual sales. This way, you can easily see how successful your lead qualification framework is by selecting the strongest prospects.

Is the BANT sales process right for your sales team?

Now that we’ve had a look at what the BANT sales qualification framework is and how it can be put into practice, it’s time to think about whether BANT is right for your team.

Why sales teams prefer the BANT lead qualification process

Many sales representatives choose to use BANT because of its efficacy. BANT is adaptable to a variety of negotiation constraints and is flexible enough to apply to a range of different buyer personas. No matter your client, you can use the BANT framework.

BANT is also very simple, which can keep onboarding costs low without compromising on results. The clear criteria of the framework also allow your team to stay on the same page throughout the sales process, giving a unified standard against which different sales reps can compare prospects.

Reasons why the BANT framework might not work for you

The BANT sales qualification framework has been around for a long time, and though it is now encoded in IBM’s Business Agility solution identification guide, some sales reps see it as outdated.

The biggest challenge of the BANT sales framework arises when it’s broken down into rehearsed and formulaic questions, or when it’s treated like a checklist. BANT requires seamless integration into a conversation—if it is used clumsily, it quickly becomes off-putting.

It is also quite seller-centric since the 4 BANT criteria focus more on whether a prospect is right for your company, rather than what you can do for them.

Alternative frameworks for qualification processes

Since BANT’s invention at IBM, various other lead qualification frameworks have sprung up. The main 3 are MEDDIC, CHAMP, and ANUM. Just like BANT, the names of these frameworks are all acronyms made up of sales qualification criteria.


MEDDIC stands for metrics, economic buyer, decision criteria, decision process, identify pain points, and champion. This approach brings data to the forefront. Where BANT prioritizes the personal experiences of the prospect and their team, MEDDIC is more interested in the facts and figures.

Metrics can help you determine whether your company is well-suited to meet the prospect’s needs, and if you can prove to them why you would be the right choice. Here, your champion is a member of the prospect’s team with whom a sales rep can develop a rapport so that they become an advocate for your business on the inside.


The CHAMP framework criteria are challenges, authority, money, and prioritization. Here, challenges are a reformulation of BANT’s need category. By placing this at the top of the approach hierarchy, sales reps are encouraged to forefront their prospect’s pain points.

Prioritizing the prospect’s challenges allows sales teams to discover opportunities that could otherwise be overlooked if they think too directly about one particular need. It also helps prospects understand that your business is looking to help them more widely.


The ANUM approach focuses on authority, need, urgency, and money. It’s a simple reordering of the BANT framework that prioritizes authority over budget. It also replaces BANT’s timeline criteria with the more-narrow category of urgency. With ANUM, the wider timeline is considered later in the sales pipeline, rather than at the point of qualification.

Implement the BANT sales qualification framework

The 4 BANT criteria have remained popular among sales teams since the 1950s, and for good reason. This simple, effective, and flexible approach continuously helps sales reps concentrate their energy on the best possible leads, converting prospects into customers.

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