Use BANT in Your Sales Team Coaching to Win More Opportunities
Salespeople often spend too much time on opportunities that aren't qualified. So what can you do to help them better qualify those opportunities to win more deals and be more successful?
Maximizing Wins with Opportunity Coaching
One of the most rewarding aspects of being a sales manager is opportunity coaching, often referred to as deal coaching.
It's rewarding because you can work with your salespeople to help them improve their win rates and advance deals they're working on more rapidly through the sales pipeline. As you think about opportunity coaching, ensure you take a constructive approach that doesn't feel like an interrogation. If it's an interrogation or the salesperson feels intimidated in any way, they will stop bringing opportunities to you.
What a sales manager needs to do is think about which questions to ask that will help the salesperson gain the skills to qualify their own opportunities because you're not going to be there for every opportunity.
Start with BANT: The Building Blocks of a Sales Opportunity
BANT stands for Budget, Authority, Need, and Timing. It's a good starting point to help salespeople qualify their own opportunities. To help them accomplish this feat, consider asking the following questions for each part of the BANT criteria:
- Budget: Is there an identified budget associated with this opportunity?
- Authority: Do they have the authority to approve this opportunity?
- Need: Is there a truly compelling business need that's been identified within the organization?
- Timing: How soon are they looking to solve this problem or address this opportunity?
Keep in mind BANT is a preliminary qualification criteria. If it was that easy and every deal was either BANT-qualified or not BANT-qualified, you'd only be working with a fraction of your total opportunities. In reality, many deals you want to continue to work on don’t meet all these criteria.
5 Questions for Opportunity Coaching
To move beyond BANT, you need to ask more probing questions to qualify and prioritize sales opportunities better. Here are five questions to go one step deeper and get to the heart of opportunity coaching.
#1: Can the salesperson succinctly share the customer's business needs with you?
Ultimately, selling is about solving a compelling business need or helping a company address an opportunity in a compelling way.
The problem with many opportunities is that there may be a very weak need or marginal opportunity. But if the opportunity is not compelling, it may be easier for the customer not to solve it and maintain the status quo.
Let's say the salesperson can't share with you exactly what the opportunity is. You might have to work with them on the questions they can ask the customer to understand the business need or opportunity better. Then based on your evaluation of that need or your mutual evaluation of need, you can decide whether this is an opportunity you want to continue to pursue.
#2: What's the unique value that your sales organization is bringing to that customer?
Potentially, there is a compelling need or an opportunity, but that doesn't mean your position to address that opportunity is also compelling. Can your salesperson articulate how your solution best addresses the customer's opportunity? If they can't, there's more work to be done.
Help your salesperson develop a value proposition that directly addresses the customer's business need or opportunity (in two or three key points). Working on the value proposition so that you're addressing the business need of the customer.
#3: Who are the decision-makers, and are you currently working with them?
Does a salesperson know how the decision is going to be made? This gets back to the BANT qualification of authority. They may be working with that influencer, and that's good. But it's important to know if there are other influencers. And which of those influencers could help you identify who the decision-makers are?
The salesperson needs to be able to reverse engineer for you, either now or in the future, exactly what the decision-making process will be. And a key way to do that is to start mapping the organization. Particularly on a complex sale, figure out who the key stakeholders, influencers, and decision-makers are, and ensure you have an access strategy.
Ultimately, salespeople often spend a lot of time and then discover that the key decision-makers have another vendor or a different solution in mind. So understanding who will make that decision and how you’ll gain access to them is very important.
Map the organization and determine which influencers you can get to who can ultimately get you to those decision-makers as early as possible in the sales process.
#4: How will the competition try and beat you?
You’ve already determined that there's an identified business need, you have a value proposition that meets that need, and you have access (or a plan to get access) to the decision-makers. So now you have to think about whom you're competing against. Is your solution the best?
It's fair to have your salesperson ask the customer, "Can you share with me whom we're competing against for this opportunity?" They may give you those names, in which case you have good competitive intelligence, and they may not.
If they share competitors, what you want to do, as objectively as possible, is outline your competitive strengths and weaknesses. Then start putting together some discussion points that play to your strengths. Highlight areas where you have a competitive point of differentiation that you can bring to your customer.
Work with the salesperson on your strengths—particularly if you know who the competition is.
Analyze where you've gone up against that competitor before or detail some of the win themes. If you lost in the past, understand why and what you could have done differently. In many cases, the customer won't share with you who the competition is. Use your industry knowledge to identify the top-tier players and go through the same type of analysis.
Assume that you’ll be competing against the people you compete with most often.
#5: Why will we win?
Can the salesperson share with you exactly why you're going to win? They should have compelling win themes to share.
Is the salesperson confident when they explain them to you? If they're confident in presenting win themes to you, it's a good bet they will be confident when they present them to the customer.
If the win themes aren't strong, you need to go back and look at the four prior questions in terms of the need, the value in terms of how you solve the problem, who the decision-makers are, your competitive points of differentiation, and then go back to develop stronger win themes.
The rewarding part of this coaching exercise is the ongoing training for your salespeople.
You're coaching them and training them to go through this analysis independently. If they understand that you're going to look for BANT and then ask these five questions, they'll start doing that—whether you're coaching on a particular deal or not.
You’ll also find that they'll spend much more time on qualified opportunities and disqualify some of them earlier than they would've normally.
At SRG, we understand the importance of opportunity coaching to enable sales teams to qualify opportunities better, save time and improve win rates. If you're ready to take your sales team to the next level, schedule a complimentary consultation today to learn how we can help.
About Norman Behar
Norman Behar is a Managing Director at the Sales Readiness Group, A Part of SBI. He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications, including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.