BANT and Beyond: Advanced Sales Qualification for SDRs & AEs

Although the goal of this post is to share some understanding on the advanced sales qualification certificate, given that many of our readers are non-sales leaders, I thought it would be useful to include a blog “tour” of a typical SDR&AE’s day.

The BANT Process is a dynamic, interactive and rigorous qualification system comprising written exams, inter-personal challenges and case studies. The BANT Process is required for the SDR and AE trainee roles at Green Business Only. The BANT Process is the new qualification standard for SDRs & AEs. For a role to remain active, SDRs & AEs must successfully pass the BANT Process.

It’s a new year. You’ve finished your BANT training. You’ve passed your BANT certification exam. You’ve now been promoted to sales qualification. Why don’t you use those new skills to prepare for your next promotion? This post shows you how to move from qualified sales professional to qualified sales professional, and how to use your new skills to prepare for your next promotion.

BANT (Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeline) is a sales qualification framework for identifying and pursuing the most qualified prospects based on their Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeline. By now, everyone has heard of the BANT qualification.

Is BANT still applicable to high-volume, recurring sales, or does a more current version of BANT need to be used?

In this post, I’d like to provide an updated version of BANT that may be used by Inside Sales Teams who deal with recurring income transactions (Sales Development Reps, Account Executives).

It’s BANT sales qualification for a new era, if you will.

What exactly is the BANT Qualification?

IBM created BANT as a tool for spotting opportunities. According to IBM’s guidelines, a prospect is deemed validated if three of the four BANT elements are met. The ISR and sales person may decide on a tighter or looser version of BANT as a team.

  • Is the prospect’s budget sufficient to purchase the product?
  • Does the prospect have decision-making power or is she just an influencer?
  • Is there a commercial requirement for the product from the prospect?
  • Timeframe – Will the prospect be able to develop a solution in a reasonable amount of time?

Modern Challenges in SaaS Sales Using BANT

Budget — Today, SaaS is a subscription model that uses OpEx budgets rather than CapEx budgets to fund purchases… Does this make a difference?

Do companies still make purchasing choices based on a single senior authoritative voice enforcing the decision today?

What is the difference between a need, a must, and a desire? Is SaaS really meeting a need, or are the majority of the services just a “nice-to-have”?

Is the notion of timeline different in a SaaS transaction with a sales cycle defined in days and an one “click” implementation?

Do we still live in a sales-driven society where we seek out customers with a budget who can be persuaded to buy a solution?

Or have things evolved to the point that we now live in a more customer-centric environment where we help customers discover, diagnose, and solve problems?

What modifications, if any, are made? How can I qualify a SaaS contract in light of this shift?

What are the drawbacks of BANT?

When we use BANT to conventional SaaS Sales qualification, we’ve seen that there are a few issues:

The issue for SDRs is that when BANT is used to qualify a transaction, it backfires since SDRs are effectively selling while the customer is still in “education” mode.

The issue for AEs is that when they use BANT to qualify a transaction, they receive positive responses, but the deal is still not qualified.

Let’s look at a normal discussion along BANT as an example, but exaggerate it for effect:

Mike is a SaaS salesperson. Jennifer, the Customer

Jennifer So, to summarize your difficulties, you must tackle problems X and Y. Is that what I said?

That is correct!

This seems to be a significant requirement for you.

As a result, we went to the recent Sales Hacker Conference, where we heard about your business for the first time.

Awesome. So, it seems that you’ve obtained funding for this project?

Yes, you have.

Awesome. Awesome. May I inquire as to who makes the decisions?

I am the one who makes the decisions, and buying will be engaged as well.

Great. When is it necessary to have a solution in place?

Within the next eight weeks, but no later than July 1st, please!

So it seems that we are a good match for you. Should I set up a demonstration with a professional?

Maybe. Allow me to speak with my team. Later this week, I’ll get back to you.

Sure. I eagerly await your response.

Mike has recently completed his BANT training and reported to his supervisor Nicole:

Nicole, I just finished a phone conversation with Jennifer. You may remember her from the Sales Hacker conference, when she was searching for a solution to issues X and Y. She said that she is in charge of the “Improvement” initiative. Jennifer wants a solution by July 1st, and she has verified that she has a budget to spend.

Isn’t that ideal? But what happens if the transaction falls through? Why? Mike didn’t ask the correct questions because he didn’t ask the appropriate ones. Mike didn’t actually inquire about Jennifer’s requirements. He just requested the information he need.

Jennifer went back to speak with her team, but the employees who used the software interfered, telling her that there were other SaaS solutions that did things they wanted more urgently. The project was pushed back in favor of other products that addressed a more pressing need.

Too much reliance on BANT for sales calls leads to low-quality SQLs or, worse, low-quality deals in the qualified sales pipeline due to complete in the following 8 weeks.

And, although I’ve oversimplified the example, this is very much how a bad “deal” enters the funnel as a qualifying offer in most instances.

Why? So, let’s have a look…

The First Rule of SaaS: Priority, Not Budget

Budget, according to Google, is “an estimate of revenue and spending for a certain period of time.”

The SaaS Situation: Most SaaS services are a fraction of the cost of a perpetual license or hardware. For a healthy company with a genuine need, a monthly charge of $500-$5,000 should be no issue. For big businesses, this may easily be increased to $40,000 each month. A budget is always present. It was never about the money; it was always about making it a priority. A priority that changes with the passage of time.

Sales Priority Chart

Concept Explanation: As you can see in the diagram above, the priority rises through time from nice-to-have to need-to-have, and finally to must-have. It’s crucial to figure out where you fit within this picture.

A customer may go silent when the priority decreases, leading you to think the “budget is spent,” not understanding that circumstances may alter in your favor, causing the priority to rise again. It gets much better…

You may explain the entire effect of your service and how it might address additional problems the client may have by understanding their position, and you’ll be able to raise the priority!

What should an SDR/AE do? When your customer is still in exploration mode early in the sales process, it’s a great opportunity to question, “Is this one of your company’s key initiatives?” “How does this rank?” says the narrator. “Do you think this priority will shift over time?” “Is this a Nice-to-have, a Need-to-have, or a Must-have?” you may wonder.

#2 In SaaS, authority is decentralized rather than hierarchical.

The power or right to issue instructions, make decisions, and compel compliance, according to Google’s definition of authority.

The SaaS Situation: We’re seeing a shift away from hierarchical (top-down) decision making in SaaS (and increasingly in any sales). Frequently, CEOs may defer to the employees who use the goods, who may be highly paid specialists themselves.

In many instances, a single user may complain that the service does not perform as expected, causing the course of action to be altered. Many businesses nowadays create a team that must reach a consensus. The team may include 1-2 users, a manager, someone from finance, and so forth.

Decision Maker Chart Sales

Explanation of the Concept: A typical “decision tree” may be seen on the left in the image above. Users are funneled through managers, who are funneled into an executive, who collects data and makes a choice. Many SaaS services, on the other hand, are centered on the “user experience.” One of the many reasons why UI/UX has grown so essential in recent years is because of this.

You can see that what you believed was a decision tree was really a committee on the right. In many committees, the executive is not the one who makes the decisions (they give the final decision their blessing). The ultimate decision maker might be a seasoned user who uses the program on a daily basis. The manager (with her own requirements) and the executive will assist the user through the decision-making process (making sure a proper decision process was followed).

What should an SDR/AE do? Your initial goal should not be to figure out who makes the decisions, but rather to figure out what sort of decision-making process is being used. You may learn more by asking questions like:

“Who else is involved in this project that can benefit from this <insert article with insights>?”


“Can I invite anybody else to the next meeting…?”

Another excellent topic to ponder is…

“Have you been involved in other recent purchases in this area such as <x> and <y>?”

#3 Impact vs. Need in Modern Sales Qualification

Need as defined by Google: Require (something) because it is necessary or crucial.

The SaaS Situation: Because virtually all SaaS services use the same “cloud architecture” and utilize a similar color scheme (blue for social, green for predictive), competition may rapidly devolve into feature-to-feature warfare. This is not in the customer’s best interests since they are often duped into paying for services they will never use. As an SDR/AE, you may play a critical part in preventing this from happening in the first place by recognizing the effect.

Needs vs Impact Sales

Explanation of the Concept: On the left in the image above, you can see a typical emphasis on the client’s needs, which is translated into features and advantages. On the right, you can see that the client’s demand is more like an onion, with countless layers that must be peeled away… to the core, using the art of questioning. The underlying effect of the demand may often be found 6-7 levels deep (6-7 questions deep!).

The distinction between nice-to-have and must-have is determined by this influence, and grasping this notion is what distinguishes a decent AE from a GREAT AE.

What to do as an SDR/AE: The easiest way to determine the effect of service is to speak with a client. As a result, plan a client/sales get-together. Request that your SDR/AE teams come up with a set of relevant questions to inquire regarding the service’s effect. IMPORTANT!

You can’t unpeel the whole onion on the first call as an SDR since the client doesn’t trust you yet! However, by asking a few more questions, you may be able to peel back another layer.

“May I ask, other from providing you with better dashboards, what is the effect of this service?”

This will provide a significant edge to your AE, as they will be able to better assess the client’s actual needs:

“My SDR informed me that you need this service to have an effect… Is that something we got right? “Permit me to inquire…”

#4 Timeline of a Critical Event

Timeline, according to Google, is “a span of time, particularly a defined period during which something happens or is intended to occur.”

The SaaS Situation: The problem stated here isn’t exclusive to SaaS; it’s a mistake that salespeople make all the time. We frequently ask in SaaS sales, “When do you need this by…” or “What is the go-live date for this service…” from which we build a timetable. The chronology, on the other hand, is in reverse. See the diagram below.

Sales Timeline Chart

Instead of deciding when you need the client’s P/O, you should start with the customer’s requirements in mind – for example, when does the client need the desired IMPACT? After that, work your way backwards. If the client’s sales kick-off is on July 7, for example, you’ll need to have your new sales acceleration solution in place for their team by the end of June.

This implies your quotation must be submitted to legal by June 15 in order for it to be executed on June 22. You don’t contact them and ask, “Jennifer, where is my P/O?” if you don’t have it by June 22nd. We need to get started with the installation”… “Jennifer, I’m calling to make sure we’re still on for the launch of your service on July 7th,” you say instead.

It’s not you receiving a P/O that’s important; it’s the customer being on-air at the appropriate moment (fix their issue!).

What should an SDR/AE do? The key to addressing this problem is to identify the crucial event. The most important question to ask is, “When do you need this service to go live?” Then, “What happens if you fail that deadline?” This straightforward inquiry will reveal if the event is “compelling” or “important.”

As soon as the client is passed from the SDR to the AE, the AE may give the following summary to the client: “My colleague tells me you have to have this on-air by date to achieve this effect, otherwise you will suffer consequences… “How can we assist you in avoiding that?”

You may now start peeling the onion by working backwards from the date.

BANT is still useful; it just needs to be updated.

What I hope to have shown is that BANT qualification is still relevant; it just has to be updated for use in B2B sales, and in a new order:

  • N = Necessity = Implications for the customer’s company
  • T = Timeline = Customer’s critical event
  • For the consumer, B = Budget = Priority
  • The consumer goes through a = Authority= Decision Process.

So there you have it… I’m sure someone will come up with a creative term to call this updated version of BANT sales qualification that sounds a bit more appealing than NTBA… Do you have any recommendations?

Before I leave you, I’d want to point you that we’ve made a significant adjustment that is crucial to all sales qualification.

It’s no longer about selling a service to a client and dealing with objections; instead, it’s about assisting them in identifying the actual issue and diagnosing the underlying effect. Do that, and the rest will fall into place.

There are two ways to sell a product: directly and indirectly. Direct sales a salesperson sells a product to the end customer. Indirect sales the product is sold to an intermediary, which may be a reseller or distributor. Sales representatives (SRs) are often in a position of authority and influence, and they should be trained and qualified in sales.. Read more about sales qualification acronyms and let us know what you think.

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Bant sales qualification is a system that allows players to qualify for the Bant Pro League.”}},{“@type”:”Question”,”name”:”What are Bant criteria?”,”acceptedAnswer”:{“@type”:”Answer”,”text”:”
Bant is a term used in Magic: The Gathering to describe the color blue.”}},{“@type”:”Question”,”name”:”Why Bant is outdated?”,”acceptedAnswer”:{“@type”:”Answer”,”text”:”
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Bant sales qualification?

Bant sales qualification is a system that allows players to qualify for the Bant Pro League.

What are Bant criteria?

Bant is a term used in Magic: The Gathering to describe the color blue.

Why Bant is outdated?

Bant is outdated because the meta has shifted to a more aggressive tempo.

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