When the acronym BANT, which stands for Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline, was created by IBM a few years ago, everyone in the B2B marketing community made it as a constitutional standard for lead qualification.
On paper, it would seem like it’s a logical set of criteria for marketers to deem whether a lead is qualified or not; who could argue that a lead that has met all these 4 requirements would still be considered as not qualified?
However, recently in the real world, the appeal of BANT has faded among most marketers, saying it is no longer an accurate way to qualify sales leads, mainly because of for two reasons:
- A strict adherence to the BANT criteria will cause marketers to ignore other valuable leads because some of the requirements are all but impossible to meet.
- It would often take some time before a lead becomes “BANT-qualified”. This risks the chance of closing a lead because of the extended process, while competitors can position themselves better with a much lower set of criteria.
Typically, using the BANT criteria, you need to call for leads to have definite budgets to qualify them. However, B2B companies no longer plan for purchases in advance. According to a study by DemandGen Report, only 20% – 30% of purchases are pre-budgeted, and between 70% and 80% of respondents say they obtain spending approval afterthey evaluate potential goods.
Determining the quality of a lead in terms of his/her authority in decision making has also diminished in essence. Currently, the norm is that committees are formed to decide over purchases: the 2012 Sales Performance Optimization survey by CSO Insights revealed that 76% of businesses have 3 or more individuals involved indecisions.
Of course, there would still have to be a perceived need for a lead to be qualified, but even the very concept of need has evolved through the years. There are instances when buyers don’t even realize the need (or the lack thereof) until they reach a certain point of the sales process, in which a marketer has great influence on.
Setting a purchasing time is no longer a primary consideration prior to selecting a vendor or supplier for most businesses. They would often think about duration after potential solutions have been evaluated and after the budget has been established. Filtering a lead based on timeline may, again, ruin the chances of getting a potent lead.
Albeit the flaws, BANT is not entirely unusable; marketers can still use it as a guide when they could not quite put a finger on a particular buyer. It has become worth mentioning, though, that this meticulous set of criteria has the possibility to drive away a prospect that could have been the mother lode of all leads.
This content originally appeared at Sales and Marketing Solutions Blog.