BANT Questions: Budget, Authority, Need, Time

In Engineering and Construction sales, sellers are continually qualifying leads and opportunities to determine the best fit for their company’s services. The BANT method is a widely used qualification technique that helps salespeople identify qualified leads by focusing on four considerations: budget, authority, need, and timing.

Like many sales methodologies, BANT has its origins in computer product sales. Created by IBM in the 1950s, BANT was used by salespeople to sift through prospects and focus on leads who a high probability of making a purchase.

How to Qualify a Lead Using BANT

BANT can be adapted by E&C business owners and sellers when selecting new clients and assessing new bid opportunities. Below are sample questions you might consider using. Tailor these to fit the unique needs of your business and prospects.

Budget. It is easy to get caught up in chasing an opportunity only to find that the project is not budgeted or funded. If an opportunity seems to good to be true, it usually is. Questions you might ask include:

  • Is the project funded/budgeted?
  • If not, what is the process and timing to secure the funding?
  • Does the budget cover the total installed cost or will the project be executed in phases?
  • What have you historically budgeted for this type of project/work?
  • What are the consequences/alternatives if the project is not funded/budgeted?

Authority. Authority questions are designed to learn how the client organization makes decisions. Many E&C clients have teams of decision-makers and the vary depending on the type of work and where it is being performed. It is important to engage with key decision-makers, influencers, and user groups.

  • How will this selection/decision be made?
  • Who will make it?
  • Who “Owns” the project?
  • Who are the stakeholders involved?

Need. Does the prospect have problems that you can solve? Ask your prospect to tell you about their pain points, the challenges they struggle with the most, the solutions they’ve already tried, and what they need your company to do to help.

  • What are your biggest challenges or priorities this year?
  • What are your business goals for this year?
  • One of the most common issues we keep hearing about is [blank]. Is this an issue for you?
  • What is driving the need for this project?
  • How urgent is this project? Is this a priority project?
  • What are the business consequences if this problem is not solved?

Timeline. Understanding the client’s timeline helps the organization utilize its resources most effectively. If the opportunity is within the next six months, this may be a priority for you. If it is scheduled in year four of a five-year capital program, it’s probably a smarter use of your time to pause your pursuit and follow up with them down the road. If the customer is vague, you might help create a sense of urgency or get them to act by offering a limited-time discount on your service.

Listening is More Important Than the List

Before you run out and start memorizing your BANT questions, keep in mind that this is a method, a tool, a framework. It is not the law. To be clear, there is no single sales methodology that drives magical results.

BANT can be effective if used as a tool to spark quality conversations between the buyer and seller. The goal is always to gather information while building trust. When you’re hunting for information that satisfies the BANT criteria, remember that this is not an interrogation. Avoid thinking of this as a checklist that has to be drilled down.

When meeting with clients, take your time and engage in a two-way conversation. Be congenial and ask questions in a natural, conversational manner. Be subtle in your approach, and whenever possible, try to frame your questions in a way that highlights the value of your company and its services. Remember, the BANT methodology is just one helpful lead-generation tool.

Successful sellers are naturally curious and empathic. They care about the customers, are curious about their needs, and treat every prospect with respect. They are problem solvers and over time, they earn the confidence of clients by guiding, coaching, informing, and educating on their company’s capabilities by sharing customer stories. This will build trust and confidence with the buyer. Human beings are hard-wired to connect.

If you want your prospect to open up, create an atmosphere in which they feel safe to do so. How you engage with the prospect as you implement your sales methodology determines its success.

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