B.A.N.T. May Be Old, But It Still Works
May 17, 2018
B.A.N.T. may be old, but it still works
B.A.N.T. may be an old concept of lead qualification, but it still works despite protestations of its dying or death. People talk about it's time to put B.A.N.T. into the past. Some marketers say they have a better way of qualifying leads and you see articles all the time stating that B.A.N.T. no longer works. Well it does work, but here are some of the detractors opinions:
You heard it here, B.A.N.T. is not dead.
On an average month, over 3,000 people view our example of a B.A.N.T. chart. It's one of our top pages that appear in organic search results. And, it's one of our top pages period in terms of views. That tells me that B.A.N.T. is not dead.
There has to be a reason for this kind of attention and that must be that people/businesses are looking for ways to better qualify the leads that they are putting into their pipeline.
B.A.N.T. depending on who you talk to was first developed by IBM. I've been in the business a long time, and it worked 3 decades ago and regardless of the era we've entered, meaning the digital era, it still works. In fact, no one has found anything better in the world of business although people are pitching they have a better way of ranking/qualifying leads. I can't argue with the idea that other criteria besides these that may add in terms of further qualifying leads, but B.A.N.T. is still valid.
The funny thing is that most of the people who are talking about the death of B.A.N.T are tech people or marketers that have little actual sales experience in the B2B sector. Well, I have been working in the B2B sector for a long time and I can tell you that B.A.N.T as a means of qualifying sales leads is still a valid methodology.
The argument seems to be that because people enter the sales cycle later (Do they?) and have already done much of their research online, that B.A.N.T. doesn't apply. They seem to be saying that because it's a 24/7 Google "university search world" that B.A.N.T. is invalid. Well, it isn't. From our own experience selling our services in the B2B sector as well as working for companies in the B2B sector.
If you're talking to the person or people with the authority to execute the purchase, and they have demonstrated a need for your solution/service, and they have a budget which they plan to spend in the next 3 months, then they meet all of my criteria on the B.A.N.T chart (click to see example chart) for becoming a qualified opportunity (a.k.a, someone ready and able to make a purchase).
Just because they can do or have done some research doesn't mean that they come through the door ready to make that purchase; and, the fact is that regardless of the wealth of information on the web, most people are not researchers and most people don't want to do or spend the time doing thorough research. We see it time and time again, when a deal goes through it goes through because all 4 of the B.A.N.T. criteria have been met. When you're missing one or more, the deal doesn't go anywhere.
And marketing automation doesn't change a thing other than it allows you to automate the messaging process and pass on the appropriate message and offer at the right time.
Some of the factors such as T (timing) may have been compressed and the sales cycle may have been shortened, but the fact remains that all organizations still go through the same qualification steps when making major purchases, I'm not talking office supplies that are bought at your local office supplies big box store or low expense purchases. I'm talking major expenditures, either capital or service related. The same criteria can be applied to some types of consumer purchases, like homes.
There are 10's if not 100's of articles written a year stating that B.A.N.T. is a dead concept and doesn't apply any longer in this digital 24/7 world. I beg to differ. It clearly depends on how you use it, but it is still a valid method of lead ranking and prioritization. If I know those four things, then I know as much as I need to know about that lead and the effort I need to put into it to close the sale.
It's certainly not applicable to inquiries or leads not in your pipeline, but it certainly applies to qualified leads in your pipeline. In fact, we as B2B marketers run up against it all the time. And when those 4 factors are in alignment, we know we have business.
- B - How often have we lost opportunities because it turns out that the prospect really didn't have the budget (B) to spend on services?
- A - How often have we lost opportunities because we didn't have the real authorities (A) to buy or decision makers involved?
- N - How often have we lost opportunities because it turns out that the prospect really didn't have a need (N) for the services?
- T - And finally, timing (T), how often have we lost opportunities simply because the timing was wrong, we were too late coming to the table or it was too early in the prospects buying cycle.
B.A.N.T works as a means of lead qualification, period the end. And, I'm frankly tired of the new world of new marketers with limited business to business big-ticket experience telling me that it no longer applies.
Certainly there are other factors that can be applied to lead qualification that will aid in determine the quality of a lead, but when it comes to the action stage that of doing something B.A.N.T. works. It tells you where to focus your sales efforts and what kind of follow up actions need to be taken with a lead at that stage. And, frankly if it didn't work, we'd stop using it and pushing it as a concept.
We see it applied every day to sectors outside of the IT industry and it works. It may have been developed by an IT company, but it is a valid tool for determining the quality of a B2B lead no matter what industry.
B.A.N.T. redefined w/ A.I.D.A.
Some have redefined B.A.N.T. by combing it with A.I.D.A. and the "A" or "Action" being the stage at which B.A.N.T. comes into play. We certainly agree that awareness, interest and desire must be part of the process, whether you formerly add it to your qualification or not. But, in our view those are a given by the time you get to the B.A.N.T. stage.
- A – awareness: someone knows about our organization as a solutions, application provider
- I – interest: someone who has responded to a previous tactic and wants to continue to learn, gather, collect additional data. No firm plans in place to make an assessment or changes.
- D – desire: someone who has plans in place to make changes or an assessment, and is willing to look at solutions. It may also be someone who is missing one of the required components for "Action."
- A – action: meets the following criteria knows as BANT (in the buying cycle)
- B – budget: has the required funds to purchase the solution in the calendar year
- A – D - decision maker: is the person responsible for making the buying decision or is part of the team that makes the buying decision – also known as "A: authority" – has the authority to make the buying decision.
- N – need: has a need that the company can address
- T – timeframe: looking to implement within the calendar year
To learn more about B.A.N.T., how to apply it, check out these white papers and pages, and our examples of how to build a B.A.N.T. qualification process for your lead management program.
- B2B Lead Scoring
- B.A.N.T. Chart
- B2B Sales Funnel
- B2B Lead Generation Best Practices
- Building a B2B Lead Management Program
Dudley Stevenson, founder and CEO of DWS Associates, has over thirty-five years’ experience in consumer marketing, business-to-business marketing, and direct marketing, including developing, planning, and implementing go-to-market strategies. He's also the author of "Marketing Direct: Breaking Through The Clutter." Working with organizations ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies, he and his team have helped clients such as IBM, Sony, Neiman Marcus, Arizona Highways, Marshall Field & Co., Mrs. Field’s, UNICEF, and Patagonia implement successful direct marketing programs. A longtime member of the Direct Marketing Association and the American Marketing Association, Stevenson is also a sought-after speaker. He’s given hundreds of presentations and workshops on marketing and direct marketing. His “Marketing Planning 101” workshop alone has reached more than 100,000 marketing and sales professionals.