Good formulas and frameworks never go out of style.
Imagine my surprise when I learned that BANT was considered passe by two of my colleagues who suggested:
"BANT? You know I love you brother. But BANT went out about 15 years ago. No qualification should deal with budget upfront. Deal with the need, what the problem is that you’re solving. If there’s a significant compelling event, budget will be there. But asking that upfront before we’ve aligned on the problem is the easy route to sales where you’re looking to pick off opportunities from bottom of funnel. Working top of funnel is harder and takes time, but is far more strategic!"
"BANT is something that I feel might be less relevant these days - it depends on your industry. Budget - Incredibly overrated. If the impact of not solving the problem is great enough, they'll find the money; Authority - Even CEOs these days like to build buy-in; Need - Here's where I think we SHOULD focus Timing - If the need is great enough along with impact, that will drive urgency."
Budget is something you should deal with way up front. Don’t market or sell a channel integration system to the single retail outlet operator. Know who your ideal customer profile is, determine what their appetite is for your offering before you waste precious people, time and money. Creating the budget early on in the buyer’s journey may be worthwhile but if only it is feasible.
Authority is not overrated and yes, single decision makers are as common as unicorns. Are you marketing to the right personas with meaningful content that will drive a decision? If your marketing and selling effort is not reaching the right authorization levels in the buyers' organization, making your revenue number is going to be tough.
Need, both colleagues recognize that need can drive budget and timing. Well done if you’re dealing at the right authorization level. How many times have you seen talented sales people stymied by a blocker? Now really talented sales people get beyond the blocker most of the time, but not always. Start with your marketing, by identifying personas and their needs, tailor content and adjust for compelling events. Are you reaching the right level in the organization to stimulate need?
Timing may not be relevant, if you don’t have quota or a quarterly revenue number to hit. If you do, then building a pipeline of opportunities with customers who will buy over a time horizon is critical if you are going to hit your quarterly number, quarter after quarter. Marketing's goal should be the number of sales qualified leads that close, this quarter and each quarter there after.
Buyers go on varying journeys, selling cycle terminology is constantly evolving. You can ask four questions in an account review, regardless of B2B, B2G or B2C and know whether or not your marketer and seller are aligned and your revenue number is secure.
Digging into Budget, Authority, Need and Timing provides revenue focused executives with a clean way to shave away irrelevant variables, which what William of Okham meant before the term "occam's razor" was coined.
Whether you are a Chief Executive Officer, Director of Marketing or a Sales Operations Manager; if you have a role in revenue, BANT is the framework for identifying gaps and aligning teams. Just like a2 + b2 solves for the length of c2.
Six month ago our client was hiring a vice president of marketing. We had helped them re-write the job profile, shuttled some qualified resumes their way and were preparing the executive team to start the dating process. It was important to have the team understand, to get A-Player talent, they would need to approach the interview process more like dating and less as a perfunctory obligation.
First dates can be awkward, so can job interviews. On first dates people start off getting to know each other before diving into "tell me about your greatest weakness". We coached the team on what questions to ask on the first date, what answers they might anticipate and how to ensure the right A-player gets the offer because we were not bringing them any B or C-players.
One of the key questions on the menu was; "in your opinion what should marketing's primary goal be?" The answer varies with the interview.
For the Chief Financial Officer, Return On Marketing Investment or ROMI is an appropriate answer, along with a brief outline of contributing factors of the calculation and questions about the hiring organizations exisiting ROMI efforts.
The Human Resource professional should expect an answer along the lines of revenue attribution and growth, team development along with creating a brand identity that attracts and retains and talent.
The sales leader should expect a variant of this answer; "to generate sales qualified leads that sellers can close." Conversations on ROMI or brand identity are not marketing A-player responses for this first date. Marketing A-players should be able to walk the sales leader through the buyer's journey describing how to create an ideal customer profile, providing criteria for stages and lead scoring. This first date conversation will help the sales leader form a relationship with the marketing A-player; this is a person who can be trusted to help grow revenues. A solid first date outcome.
On the second or third date, A-player marketers should be willing to discuss revenue based accelerators as part of their compensation package. A-players are confident their marketing efforts will contribute to revenue growth.
After six months, the CEO, CFO and Sales VP reported they had hired well. They didn't just hire an A-player, the dating process had led them to the right A-player. The number of sales qualified leads had improved along with the close rates; revenue growth realized.
Not all customers are created equal, some have a much higher propensity to buy. Can your team put a bullseye on those most valuable customers, focusing marketing, sales and support to ensure resources are allocated properly? Can your team create an ideal customer or buyer profile? Did you know that Ideal Customers are ten times less likely to churn or leave, than those that don't fit the profile?
Your most valuable customers cost less to acquire and are more profitable. Now, what attributes do they have? At the basic level there are five steps to identifying your most valuable customers.
Define the objective along with 5 to 7 variables that are distinct and contribute to the outcome. Test for dependency. Demographics or firmographics such as annual revenue, profit, industry, employees, people in the household, miles from a certain location, number of purchases, value of purchases, and so on. This exercise requires a fundamental understanding of the outcome and contributing variables. It also requires a certain amount of curiosity and bias aversion. Are there outliers, not in your current data set, that drive the outcome? Consider weather, commodities, consumer confidence, wholesale price index or other publicly available data.
Take all the data from your records, all the customers who bought in the past 6-months or year, filter out those 5 to 7 defined contributing variables and calculate the mean and standard deviation for each.
For every customer in the set, compute difference between the values in that customer and the entire set, divide by the standard deviation of the set. This yields standard scores between the variables so they can be compared on the same scale.
Next, compute the summary score for each customer or the average of its standard scores.
Order the customers from high to low based on those summary scores and the desired outcome. Watch for the patterns to emerge, you’re now ready to build your propensity to buy formula. Customers above the 80th percentile are your most valued customers. Now you can apply your resources to prospects who look like those customers; and focus your support efforts on the top 80th percentile.
Does this approach apply to B2B, B2C, and Non-profit? Yes. Start-ups or enterprise sized organizations? Definitely.
What if you don’t have the all data necessary? Companies like Dun & Bradstreet make a living compiling and cataloguing data on businesses. Geospatial and consumer data is more readily available today than ever before. If you need data to fill in some blanks, there’s a list for that.
Getting started requires your organization to do some primary research up front; structured interviews with personnel, buyers, consumers is a great place to start. Validate and refine the contributing variables. Be mindful of bias, look for the outliers. The reward for running this exercise is championship performance, can your team afford anything less? Ascendiosa can help.
Author: Mark Miller is Ascendiosa's Chief Commercial Officer