How to Use the BANT Framework to Qualify Sales Leads

Learn about the BANT lead qualification framework and how to use it to quickly and accurately qualify leads on your discovery calls.

BANT is a popular lead qualification framework that sales reps use on discovery calls to test a lead’s fit for their solution based on budget, authority, needs, and timeline. The framework helps you decide which questions to ask and ensures a repeatable and testable lead qualification process for discovery calls. As a result, BANT helps you identify high-quality leads to nurture through your sales pipeline and low-quality leads to discard. 

How Does BANT Work? 

Salespeople that use BANT on their 30-minute discovery calls have often found that their current customers’ budget — followed by their authority, needs, and timeline — primarily made them a good fit for a product or service. BANT acts as a checklist, telling you what you need to uncover about a lead before qualifying them into a prospect and spending time nurturing them. You can then plan the best 2–3 corresponding questions per criterion and create a call script. 

Below are the four BANT categories and what they help you accomplish on a call: 

  • Budget: Discover whether the lead has enough money to purchase the product or service. 
  • Authority: Find out how much influence the lead has in the final purchasing decision.
  • Needs: Confirm that the solution can solve the lead’s problems and provide a desired outcome.
  • Timeline: Ensure that the lead’s purchase, implementation, and results timing work for you.

After researching your lead and planning a discovery call script, it’s common to start with budget questions and work your way down. Measure the lead’s responses against your ideal customer profile (ICP) as you go. For example, if they say they need to “lower operating costs” and your ICP lists this as a top pain point, the lead likely passes the needs section of BANT. At the end of the call, either qualify the lead as a prospect or disqualify them based on the results. 

While some sales teams require leads to meet all four criteria, others are more lenient with their qualification threshold, approving leads that hit only three. If, for example, a lead represents a large sum of potential revenue, you might decide to take the risk and welcome them into your pipeline.

Often, subjective value judgments can come into play. Ask each lead the same set of questions so you can objectively compare them to each other, but rely on your sales intuition as well. This combination allows for a flexible yet accurate lead qualification process that consistently predicts who’s a good fit. Following best practices for using BANT can also help you refine your process.

Free BANT Script for Discovery Calls 

Here's a free discovery call script that uses the BANT qualification framework and includes the essential sections of a script — opening, small talk, intro, agenda, discovery questions, and closing — along with 10 BANT-related example discovery questions. Feel free to use the script as is or to tailor it to fit your company’s specific strategy.

Who Should Use the BANT Qualification Framework

Many types of businesses, especially those in the B2B space, can benefit from BANT, as it covers four of the most important judgment criteria for qualifying a lead into a prospect. That said, BANT does have its ideal users: 

  • Companies Selling Expensive Solutions: Businesses selling things like enterprise software or real estate, where price is often a holdup in the sale, will find BANT to be an especially useful expedient since they can quickly disqualify leads that can’t afford it.
  • Businesses That Don’t Publicly List Pricing: If a business has custom pricing, they may not list it on their website. Using this framework is a way to give uninformed leads a general price range early, and disqualify those who can’t afford it. 
  • Companies Selling to Mid-Large Companies: Prioritizing authority second, BANT is useful for those selling to other businesses with a range of potential influencers and decision-makers. Reps can quickly identify if this is the right person to talk to. 

Despite its value, there are businesses that should choose a framework other than BANT. Companies that prioritize other criteria over budget, such as pain points or goals, might get more use out of a framework that reflects these priorities. Companies that sell low-priced solutions could even find starting the qualification conversation with budget questions to be a bit tactless. If this sounds like you, skip ahead for some alternatives to BANT.

Pro Tip:

For my sales writing business, I rarely start a discovery call by talking about price. I know that most of my potential tech clients will be able to scrounge together the funds if they see the value in my services, so I use CHAMP instead. But I will say, as my rates increase alongside my skill set, I’m becoming more open to switching to BANT to avoid wasting time on discovery.

How to Qualify a Lead Using BANT

There is a systematic way to qualify a lead using the BANT framework. It starts with some preparation before the discovery call. First, research the lead to try to get some insight into their probable BANT answers. Then, write a discovery call script that includes 2–3 questions for each of BANT’s four criteria. During the call, ask your BANT questions and see how well the lead’s answers match your ICP. At the end of the call, qualify or disqualify the lead. 

1. Research Your Lead

Doing some initial research on the lead before the discovery call does two things. First, it helps you create a more personalized discovery call script. For example, knowing their job title will help you build a nice rapport-building opening question. Second, research can answer, at least partially, some of the BANT questions. That way, if the lead gives you vague answers for certain criteria, you have your research to help you probe a bit for a deeper response. 

Below are some effective research methods to learn more about your lead: 

  • Check Their Personal or Business Website: Look for their job title, hobbies, company details, and other intel that can help you personalize the script and assess BANT. 
  • Send out a Needs Assessment Email: Create and send a Google Form or online questionnaire that asks about a lead’s specific needs. For more, read our needs assessment article, which includes how to create one, plus examples. 
  • Look Through Their History in Your CRM: Has the lead had past interactions with your brand? What marketing emails and content have they interacted with? How did they get to this stage of lead qualification? Did they already answer some BANT questions? 
  • Check Google for News: B2B salespeople might want to check to see if the lead’s company has made any recent changes like expansions or shifts in company direction. These can be conversation starters and clues about their level of qualification. 

When I was starting out as a business development rep (BDR), my account executive would sometimes come back to me before the call and tell me that I needed to qualify the lead more comprehensively before they’d hop on a discovery call. This illustrates another use of pre-call research: you can use it to protect your time. It’s inevitable that some unpromising leads will make it through, but this research time is your chance to catch them before committing to a call. 

2. Write a Discovery Call Script

A discovery call script is a written document that includes not only your BANT questions but also other sections like agenda-setting and a closing statement. The script maps your ideal conversation flow and serves as a reference you can use whenever you need to get the call back on track. 

Let’s go into the six sections of the script a bit more in depth:

  • Rapport-Building Opening: Write your greeting and a few questions that can serve as springboards for small talk and set a comfortable mood.
  • Small Talk: Spend about 2–5 minutes talking with the lead about business, personal life, or whatever topics your opening questions led to. 
  • Introductions: In 4–5 sentences, introduce yourself and give an overview of your company, preferably with customer-centric language. Key points to hit are problems you solve, your and the business’s credentials, and the solution’s benefits.  
  • Agenda: Use 1–2 sentences to switch the focus from small talk to discovery. Set the customer's expectations for the rest of the call and get them to agree to the agenda. 
  • Discovery Call Questions: Write your 8–10 questions (2–3 for each BANT criteria) and be sure to put the most pressing questions toward the top. 
  • Closing Statement: Build two closings — one for qualified leads where you explain why they’re a good fit and ask them to take next steps with you, and one for disqualified leads where you explain why it’s a poor fit and steer them toward helpful resources. 

Often, salespeople will use a template BANT discovery call script and tailor it to fit each specific lead based on the information they found during their research phase. That way reps don’t have to start from scratch every time. For more, check out how to write a discovery call script.

Pro Tip:

When I was in tech sales, writing and rehearsing a discovery call script allowed me to prepare for the conversation, which alleviated any pre-call jitters. As I wrote out the questions, the lead’s potential answers would come to mind, and I’d practice how to respond. By the end, it was as if I’d already engaged in all potential versions of the call, so I was smoother on the phone when the call finally came.

3. Ask Your BANT Questions

So, you’ve made it through the opening sections of your discovery call and it’s now time to begin the question portion where you ask down the list of your BANT questions. As you go through each section of BANT, write a check, X, or question mark for each criterion to denote whether they’ve passed, failed, or need further analysis. That way at the end of the call, you can quickly decide whether the lead is a good or bad fit.  

Let’s go over how to measure each of BANT’s criteria — budget, authority, needs, and timeline — and some questions to ask. 

Assess Your Lead’s Budget

Ask a few questions that will help you figure out if the lead has the funds to purchase your product or service. Sometimes, you’ll encounter leads who are stunned by the price and thought it would be much lower. Disqualifying leads who just can’t afford it will save you a tremendous amount of time down the line. It’s better to get that over with now than at the end of the sale after you’ve invested weeks nurturing the lead

Here are some questions to assess the lead’s budget: 

  • What is your budget for this initiative? 
  • Do you have a budget already set aside for this solution?
  • How much have you spent on similar solutions? 

Keep in mind that you can sometimes disqualify a lead from one product but still keep them as a potential client for another one. For example, you could recommend solutions that are in their budget range. Of course, this would derail the call into more of a presentation for a new solution. But, when possible, opening a new opportunity is often better than just ending the call. 

Measure the Lead’s Authority

Your 2–3 authority questions should help you determine how much influence the lead has over the purchase. Ideally, they’ll be the decision-maker, but sometimes you’ll find that other people, including higher-ups, are involved in the evaluation and you'll need to convince them too. This is especially common in B2B sales, where there’s an average buying-group size of 5.4

Below are a few questions you could ask to understand the lead’s level of authority: 

  • Who is ultimately in charge of signing the paperwork?
  • Are there other people involved in this decision? If so, what’s your role?
  • Would you tell me a bit about your day-to-day job responsibilities?

The lead’s answers during this portion will not only help you qualify or disqualify the lead. The intel will also help you strategically allocate your time amongst the various buyers going forward. As a final tip, whenever you discover that someone other than the lead holds the power, use your time on the call to learn about that person and how to get in touch with them. In many cases, the lead will facilitate the connection, especially if they see value in your solution. 

Uncover Your Lead’s Need

Your goal here is to ask a few questions that will help you understand the lead’s needs, pain points, and expectations so that you can determine whether or not your business is capable of providing for them. This enables you to catch leads who might have misunderstood your solution, and to disqualify leads on the basis that they don’t actually need what you sell.  

Here are a few example questions for assessing the needs of a lead: 

  • What prompted you to reach out to us in the first place?
  • What are a few main issues you wish to solve with our product? 
  • Can you describe your ideal outcome of the purchase? 

The needs portion should also be used as research time for presentations or demos you’ll give during lead nurturing, the next step in the standard sales process. While assessing their fit, jot down their business issues and priorities so that you can focus on them when you create a personalized pitch, sales deck, demo flow, or whatever material you use to present your solution. 

Gauge the Lead’s Timeline

Lastly, find out if the lead’s timing works with yours. Figure out how soon they’re willing to act. A feel for the lead’s sense of urgency helps you qualify them. As a general rule, if their timeline for purchase is longer than your average sales cycle, revisit the conversation at a later date. Knowing the lead’s timeline also helps you rank them against the other prospects in your pipeline, allowing you to focus on nurturing the people you can close this or next quarter. 

Below are some questions to ask to gauge the lead’s timeline: 

  • By when do you want to have this solution implemented or delivered?
  • What are the consequences of missing the deadline? 
  • When do you expect to see results? 

Gauging their timeline will also prevent you from signing customers who are doomed to become unsatisfied and likely to churn. You’re making sure you can meet their expectations for things like how long implementation will take, how long training will last, and how long it will take to see results. 

4. Qualify or Disqualify the Lead

After you’ve asked your questions, determine if the lead is qualified or disqualified. To do so, stick with a threshold that works for your business’s needs. A common threshold is meeting all four BANT criteria, but some sellers will be more lenient and qualify leads that meet three as long as the close is still possible. Review your notes and see where the lead falls, using your seller’s intuition if needed. 

Once you know your decision, make your closing statement. If the lead is qualified, explain why they’re a good fit for your solution, then make your call-to-action. If not, tell them why this isn’t a good match and try to point them toward a resource or business that might be better suited to help them. That way, if they're ever a a better fit, they’ll remember you as supportive and come back.

When the call ends, pull up your CRM and record any important notes about the conversation, then mark the lead as either qualified or disqualified. Move good-fit leads from the qualification step to the nurturing step, which involves a few stages to get them closer to purchasing. For unqualified leads, jot down your reasoning — this can help you, the BDR team, or the marketing team improve your lead qualification efforts. 

Best Sample Discovery Call Using BANT

Here’s a sample discovery call that will give you an idea of what a BANT qualification conversation looks like. It’s a call between a sales rep selling cold outreach software and a director of sales at a tech startup looking to make her team’s outreach more process-driven. In the end, the lead in this example met all four criteria of the BANT framework. 

Top 4 Tips for Using BANT on a Discovery Call

Below are four tips that will help you use BANT on your discovery calls as effectively as possible. These include being open to going out of order, using questions that also sell, not being afraid to ask questions that don’t directly correlate with the BANT criteria, and asking follow-up questions.

Be Open to Going Out of Order

You don’t always have to start with budget questions and end with timeline ones. Rigidity can sometimes lead to the disruption of conversational flow, so it’s better to be flexible in discovery conversations.

For example, suppose your customer asks about the implementation process in the middle of your budget analysis. In that case, it’s a good idea to switch your focus to timeline questions to accommodate their priorities.

Make Some of Your Questions Also Sell

Questions don’t only serve the purpose of revealing information about a lead’s level of fit. A properly framed question can do other things like increase a lead’s urgency or desire for your product or service.

Take the question “What are the consequences of not getting this solution implemented by {lead’s preferred deadline}?” This gets the lead thinking about why it’s so important to finish this deal quickly rather than procrastinating, which can help you shorten the sales cycle.

Or take “What made you think that we’re especially well equipped to solve your issue?” Now you’ve got them remembering the positive details they learned about your company during their online research. They’ll therefore be more excited about going forward once you say your call-to-action.

Feel Free to Ask Questions That Don’t Fall Under BANT

Flexibility is a vital skill for salespeople. It helps you adjust to each unique lead and give them the best experience possible. It also allows you to ask questions outside of BANT that you believe will improve your qualification process.

For example, a B2B salesperson might ask all the BANT questions and then ask one question to assess just one of the criteria of the CHAMP framework, like the lead’s main challenges.

Ask Follow-up Questions to Dig Deeper

Sometimes a lead will answer a question and you’ll want to probe further to truly understand their situation. For example, the lead might say that their main need is to drive more traffic to their website. In that case, you can ask what issues are preventing them from doing so to further ensure that you have the right solution.

Or, you might ask “What solutions have you already tried?” to make sure they didn’t already fail with your approach or a similar tool. An added benefit of asking follow-up questions is that the discovery call automatically becomes more conversational, and the lead feels like you’re truly interested in understanding their situation.

Using BANT or another qualification framework on a discovery call might seem clunky or inauthentic to you at first, but when you practice and use these tips, you'll start to sound like a natural on your calls. Most important, you'll get the information you need to qualify or disqualify your leads.

Alternatives to the BANT Framework

BANT is a time-tested and effective framework for qualifying leads on discovery calls, but it’s not the only one out there. Some businesses might benefit from other types of frameworks like CHAMP, GPCTBA/C&I, and ANUM.

CHAMP

GPCTBA/C&I

ANUM

CHAMP stands for challenges, authority, money, and prioritization. Compared to BANT, it prioritizes customer challenges, while demoting budget to second to last. It’s therefore best for companies that believe their ability to solve a customer’s challenge is the most significant indication of qualification. CHAMP’s philosophy is “if a lead has the need, they’ll find a way to pay for it.” 

GPCTBA/C&I is an acronym for goals, plans, challenges, timeline, budget, authority, negative consequences of ignoring the problem or not achieving the goal, and positive implications of reaching the goal. Putting goals, plans, and challenges at the forefront, it comes across as extremely customer-centric, making the customer feel as if the salesperson cares most about understanding their needs. 

GPCTBA/C&I is also exhaustive in its investigation, making it excellent for salespeople selling complex solutions that fit only a specific type of customer. Another benefit of its comprehensiveness is that, in the process of qualifying, salespeople also get a lot of intel to use to create a personalized presentation.

ANUM stands for authority, needs, urgency, and money. It’s essentially BANT with a larger emphasis on authority than budget. This switch is great for sellers who have been speaking with a lot of leads that are low in authority. Uncovering this fact early, a rep using ANUM can quickly change the call's purpose from learning about this lead to identifying and getting in touch with the decision-maker. 

BANT is an effective lead qualification framework for most businesses, especially those with higher-priced products or services. However, there are other types of frameworks that might be better suited to your business needs. Consider testing them out to see which creates the highest sales qualified lead to win rate.  

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is BANT Still Effective?

BANT is still an effective lead qualification framework for many types of businesses. The main objection raised against BANT is that it focuses too much on budget, making it less customer-centric. But, if your business has high price points that many leads might not be able to pay, then this emphasis on their budget is exactly what you want. It saves you a ton of time, and many customers will appreciate your being upfront about price, as it will save them time as well. 

Bottom Line: BANT

BANT is a lead qualification framework that works for all salespeople but is best for those with higher-priced products and services. It prioritizes the lead's budget, authority, needs, and timeline in that order. The BANT framework helps you create a structured, repeatable qualification process for your discovery calls, which leads to more accurate and objective lead qualification, healthier pipelines, and a more effective overall lead generation process. 

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