Tim Newman, Telemarketing Specialist
The Telemarketing Company
At The Telemarketing Company we record all of our marketing calls, so that makes it nice and easy to review any leads after the event. Quality checking a lead before it reaches the client is a no-brainer, but what are we going to check it for exactly? If there’s no swearing or beat-boxing on the call that’s a good start, but it’ll take more than that to make it worthy. Of course, the basics have to be covered: taking the prospect’s email address, job title, postal address, setting a time and date and taking a direct line etc, but what else does a lead call require?
There are a number of different frameworks marketing agencies use to judge the success of telemarketing calls, but the one we use most regularly here is BANT.
BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing; it was first designed and implemented by IBM, so it’s got a top-notch pedigree. Despite BANT’s noble birth it has its fair share of dissenters. But before we discuss the cons, here are the BANT categories explained in brief:
Is the company you are contacting in a position to make a purchase? Do they have a pot of cash set aside for a proposition like yours already?
Is the person you are setting an appointment with the right person? It’s all very well generating interest in your spectacular software, but if that interest is generated with the company cleaner, you’re backing the wrong horse.
Confirming that the person you’re pitching to has the right level of seniority is a must.
Will your product/solution fit into the company we are calling? Is there a hole that needs to be filled, a pain point we can uncover with open questioning and address?
After all, there’s no point pitching a pitchfork to a plumber or flogging a feather duster to a pharmacist.
How long will it be until your offering can fit into their business plan? Are there any mergers or acquisitions on the horizon that could help or hinder the timing of the purchase?
Will the company need to wait until the next financial year before the budget becomes available?
That all sounds reasonable enough, right? But, like any marketing tool, there are bound to be issues of some description.
The pros for BANT are clear; it’s simple, easy to use and self-explanatory. But does it hold up to deeper scrutiny? There are plenty of people in the marketing universe that feel BANT is no longer useful and should be hung from the rafters. To be honest, some of the beefs with BANT are fair enough. Here are some of the issues:
Dissenters feel that the “Budget” part of BANT is a little out of date. Nowadays some companies don’t run annual budgets like they used to. Rather than dishing out the cash in yearly chunks, companies now find a solution or product they want, build a case for it and raise the cash when they’re ready to buy.
So in some cases, if you wait for the budget to be ready, you’ve already missed the boat.
In B2B companies in particular buying power is often spread throughout committees or small teams of people; this means that there isn’t necessarily a single authority figure who holds the purse strings.
BANT’s detractors argue that rather than “Authority” the right criteria should be “Influence” or “Involvement”. But, that would make the acronym a lot less business-like.
It’s difficult to imagine how “Need” isn’t an important criterion, but anti-BANTers make a fair point. If you have a product that you want to sell, sometimes you need to get in front of the right person and really sell it to them. Telemarketing is great for generating interest, and there’s nothing like a face to face appointment to really get your point across.
This is especially true if you have a particularly innovative, complex or new product, people won’t necessarily know that they need it… yet.
The argument against “Timeline” is similar to that for “Budget”. In many companies, the timeline for the procurement of a service is only set in stone after the choice of supplier has been made. You run the risk of waving the ship out of the harbour if you insist on waiting for a timeline to be created.
To BANT or not to BANT? That is the question.
Some of our clients do indeed ask that we fulfil the B, A, N and T but not all of them. For the reasons discussed above, it doesn’t always fit everyone’s needs, and that’s where flexibility comes into play.
By discussing the needs of our customers and getting an understanding of the way their target demographic purchase individual offerings, we can see which set of guidelines will suit them best.
I think you’ll all agree that there are some fair and understandable cons to BANT. As mentioned above, the key thing here is flexibility. BANT is a framework and each of the four parameters can be discussed and tweaked, or simply ignored. BANT creates a starting point to discuss the shape of your ideal lead. It is not a biblical mantra set in granite. It is open to massage.
After 25 years specialising in B2B lead generation, we understand that each successful marketing call has its own character, its own ebb and flow. No two calls are the same. This makes it very useful to have some sort of framework to start out with, but at the same time it’s important to judge each call on its own merits. B2B telemarketers are trained to ask open questions and encourage conversation. This in itself means we are able to ascertain how much interest there truly is in the offering. Whether BANT is satisfied or not is another matter.
BANT certainly isn’t the only method of qualifying a lead either, so if it doesn’t float your boat for your lead generation campaign, there are plenty of options for you to peruse. Other acronyms on the rise include:
FAINT - Finance, Authority, Impact, Need, Timing
ACNE - Authority, Compelling Trigger Events, Need, Engagement
IFISU - Issue, Fit, Impact, Sponsor, Urgency
CHAMP – Challenges, Authority, Money, Prioritisation
All of the above have their own pros and cons and, although some camps are determined to oust the use of BANT all together, that seems a little bit strong. As a means of qualifying leads BANT et al are a simple and effective tool.
Sure, these tools need to be flexible sometimes and shifted to suit individual client’s needs, but as a guide post, they’re pretty darned useful.