The Earth is flat and is the center of the universe. Lightning never strikes the same place twice.
BANT is the best – nay, the only – way to qualify prospects.
These were all myths that were once widely believed. However, over time and with lots of rigorous scientific analysis, they were all eventually debunked, leaving their initial believers to scratch their heads and feeling silly about themselves.
If we now know the the Earth is round and revolves around the sun, and lightning can indeed strike the same place more than once, what should we do about the third aforementioned myth, then? If BANT isn’t the solution to qualify prospects, than what is?
Allow us to introduce CHAMP.
Why BANT is not the Answer
Simply put, the qualification method BANT – where reps get prospects to demonstrate that they have a budget, are the decision-making authority figure, have a real need for your product and have a defined timeline – is outdated. It is a legacy method that should have gone the way of the door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesperson.
For starters, the sequence of order in the BANT acronym is a major red flag. Leading off by talking about budget is setting the table for an entrenched price war that you cannot win. Talking about pricing, especially right off the bat, is something that will make prospects feel very uncomfortable. The subsequent order of letters doesn’t reflect sales best practices either.
Beyond the ordering, the BANT acronym represents a disconnect between the modern buyer and sales reps. What would be a better Sales 2.0 model of qualification?
How Sales Champions Qualify Prospects
CHAMP – the new BANT – stands for CHallenges, Authority, Money and Prioritization.
We begin with CHALLENGES because this is the most important element in B2B sales today. Your sales reps provide solutions, but just as light cannot exist without darkness, solutions don’t mean a thing if there aren’t problems in the first place. That should be your reps’ primary fact-finding mission – figure out what challenges your prospect is dealing with, what pain they suffer on a regular basis. Once you have that pain, you can start aligning your product as the solution.
This is the first qualification step because without it, nothing else matters. A billion dollar budget on their part is for naught if they have no real challenges that they need to address. However, if they do have challenges, and if your reps can demonstrate empathy in understanding these challenges and helping them solve these obstacles, the prospects have passed the first qualification test. The rest should come more easily.
The next qualification step is identifying AUTHORITY. This doesn’t mean dismissing or disqualifying low-influencing or low-impact contacts. Rather, authority as part of your reps’ qualification process means asking questions and finding information to help you map out the company’s organizational structure.
Low-level contacts know who the decision-making and buying authority figures are. Even if they are just an admin or operations professional, they have a better understanding of their internal org structure than you do. They can point you to the CEO, Sales VP or manager, depending on who has the final say.
As much as we like to downplay the concepts of cost and price in pursuit of real value, the truth is that MONEY matters. Even if your product can dramatically change lives, if there’s no budget in the coffers, it’s a moot point. In terms of qualification, don’t jump right into quoting prices, but rather ask some softer probing questions, such as:
- What type of investment do you think this project or solution requires?
- Have you allocated any of your (quarterly, monthly) budget to addressing this issue?
- When do you plan on asking for budget allocation, and who (CFO, CEO) would you be asking?
Concessions can be made in terms of money and price, but you want to make sure you’re in the relatively same ballpark. If you can provide value that they need and can justify, money shouldn’t be an issue.
Finally, you need to know your solution ranks on the buyer’s list of PRIORITIES. This will also help firm up your timeline; if this is a pressing issue, then the sales cycle will likely be much shorter. However, if this is a nice-to-have, not a must-have, then you might see your product fall down the prospect’s priority list. They might still buy from you, but only when they’ve solved other top-of-mind issues. Getting the answer to this question will help establish the next steps – should you follow-up immediately? Or maybe back-off for a month or two before putting in another all-out blitz?
Sales qualification matters. A lot. But qualifying via the old methods – using BANT as your guideline on what to look for – is no longer applicable. To start selling to the modern buyer like a champion, qualify through the lens of CHAMP.