Using the “BANT” Approach in Your Hospital Sales Process
By Ibby Smith Stofer
Welcome to a new sales year and it’s ever-growing objectives! We now must greet the new year with a new plan of action to ensure we stay on target and meet those important goals set for 2019. The following article can help you have a realistic evaluation to help you adjust your forecast and identify the needs to advance other accounts.
Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe (BANT) are the critical points to know and monitor throughout the sales process. If you use the “BANT” approach and qualification questions it will lead you to be more efficient in your evaluations for each account in the pipeline. Not fully understanding these points may mean that the customer is actually a prospect and should not be part of the pipeline forecast.
Budgetary questions can be tricky depending on how we approach them. This should be established early in the buying cycle, but sometimes it is overlooked, and it can also change over the course of the customer’s buying process. Here are some examples of questions to consider and figure out:
- What is the customer’s budget cycle? Annual? Mid-Year?
- Have funds been allocated for this project?
- What are the competing projects that are attempting to access the same funds?
- Where is this project in the customers priority list?
Similarly, you must seek to ask questions to ensure that the customer’s needs can be resolved. Qualifying questions like the following can help secure the prospect's commitment and solidify their internal rationale for making a purchase.
- Is your current system experiencing significant unbudgeted repairs?
- Is the technology obsolete?
- Will this purchase improve patient care, reduce cost and or improve workflow?
- What happens to those areas if you do nothing or delay this decision?
Authority and Timeframe
Receiving answers about Authority and Timeframe is often identified concurrent with the budget and need discovery processes, but here are some to consider or confirm.
- What is the process to approve capital expenses in this range of dollars?
- Are there limits on using operating funds for this type of purchase?
- Have you used leasing options in the past and would they consider doing it for this purchase?
- What is the timeframe the customer sees as their go no go date for this project?
One last timeframe question that should be held in reserve and only used with approval from your company.
- What will it take to close this business with you by (insert date)?
- If we can meet that request, when will you be able to issue the PO or sign the contract?
A quick internet search on the topic of BANT will show how this initial tool has progressed. It is still the basics of the versions which have preceded. One article points out that as the customer’s buying process has evolved so have the definitions and sequence of qualification questions. https://www.propellercrm.com/blog/bant-framework
I found that the section under BANT for Software as a Service (SaaS) offered updated definitions that align more with today’s customer process for equipment, software and or services. A research study performed by Google reported that over 80% of customers have already done significant research on both companies and products prior to connecting with a salesperson. With that in mind, by using this model below we align our process with the language of today’s customers and their purchase process.
- Need becomes Impact on the customer business…what is their motivation to change?
- Timeline becomes Critical event for the customer…what is the customers' timeline.
- Budget becomes Priority for the customer
- Authority becomes Decision process the customer goes through…knowing the who, when and how is critical.
These aspects are more qualitative and less quantitative in nature, but they capture more detail and can lead to a better understanding of where the customer is in their own process versus the sales process focus of the BANT approach. Centering our discovery on the customer’s process helps align us in our goals and timelines.
Taking the time to look at each opportunity and answer these types of qualification questions, regardless of what acronym you prefer, will add to your confidence that the deals will close by your target date! Good luck and hope your 2019 sales results exceed your expectations.