As a small business owner I spend a lot of time on business development. And as a marketing professional I have a lot of experience working with sales teams for small and enterprise businesses – both internally (client-side) and externally (agency-side). I, of course, am familiar with BANT – a sales strategy that basically helps you determine whether or not a sales opportunity is real. If you don’t know what the letters in BANT stand for – here you are: Budget, Authority, Need and Timeframe. I remember first learning about this strategy over 15 years ago – and as Junior Salesperson, this was prior to my marketing career, I thought BANT was the Holy Grail. Now many years later, after analyzing our sales process, BANT resurfaced for me. It also resurfaced as an article in my news feed too from Sirius Decisions. They recently published a blog asking whether or not BANT is still relevant. The answer is ‘it depends’.
I think BANT is relevant for many small businesses because a lot of us struggle with business development, mainly because we started our businesses because we want to help people. We think we have ideas, solutions and theories that will help others be successful. That at least is the driver for me in my work. I have always enjoyed standing on the sideline and watching the success of my team, my boss and now my clients. It gives me such great satisfaction. So when I go about business development, I tend to spend loads of time talking to prospects and essentially solving their problems and providing suggestions because I want to see them succeed. Sometimes, after these sessions – I feel great, so does the prospect, but there is no real opportunity on the table. This need to help people doesn’t always result in new opportunities for our business; I believe it results in good karma.
Usually, good karma helps you survive and what you put out into the universe will come back to you – I strongly believe that is true. But as a business owner, you must also remember that at the end of the day business is business. It is important to evaluate each interaction with a new prospect and apply the BANT strategy, because if not you can be putting your own welfare in jeopardy by wasting a lot of time on proposals that go nowhere.
It is hard to stop yourself before you give away too much of your time – this is something that goes against the ‘core’ of a lot of small business owners and it is sometimes in the end what makes them fail. By applying BANT or other strategy to your business development efforts you are able to determine how much time you should spend on prospects. It is no longer a guessing game. BANT provides parameters for you to balance being helpful and over-extending yourself which just may lead to the downfall of your business.
Whether you choose BANT or another business development/sales strategy, keep your business at the center of your decisions. In the long run, your business was established to help others and yourself – keeping yourself front and center will only help you service others better.