Sales are easy if you know how. Here is how.Foundational know how.
Work BANTS (no, not the eating plan).
BANTS is an acronym to keep you on track in a sales call, or even through the bigger sales process. It also lets you qualify a new lead to see if they are worth your time.
The idea is to ask questions around each topic to get the info you need and to let your prospect know you are focused on them and able to help.
The budget refers to the amount of money that they are willing and able to spend on this project. It’s not just you they are buying, remember, we want to get an idea if they can even afford what you’re going to tell them to do.
Authority is asking who the decision-maker and purse-string holder is. Some people call these stakeholders, however, I have found time and again that there are 2 people that matter and usually it’s only one – the person who makes the final decision, signs off the invoice, and pays for it.
Needs are the goals and requirements of the customer. What their problems are, what they’re working with now and what their vision is for the project.
Timescale is when they’re looking to start. This lets you know how urgent their problem is and if they are going to waste your time with back and forth.
Suppliers means asking who else they’re working with, who else they’re approaching and who is currently supplying their needs.
BANTS in Action
I have just gone through the process of getting quotes to soundproof my home studio. I record videos and take a lot of calls. My window is super close to my neighbour so I want to get everything soundproof. The calls with potential service providers were the inspiration for this email.
Imagine you’re an acoustics company that specialises in sound-proof and audio-dampening for home studios and offices.
You transform home workspaces into quiet areas and prevent noise leaking out into other areas of the home. Customers might include YouTube creators, podcasters, video editors, musicians, and home workers with lots of meetings.
Either through an advert or Google, someone finds you and sends you an email asking for a quote. Before you send one, however, you need a little information about the project. So you book a call and call them up.
You: Hi there I’m calling from Acoustic Foam Ltd and wanted to talk to Mr. Tindall about his recent request for a quote, to adjust the audio quality in his home office. In order to send you our most reliable and accurate quote, I’d need to ask a few questions if that’s ok?
Customer: Of course, go ahead.
You: (Authority) Are you Mr. Tindall?
Customer: Yes that’s me.
You: (Budget) What’s your budget?
Notice the short, direct, and point question. Treat it like duct tape over a kidnapping victim's mouth and rip it off. We’ll cover this question in more detail later because it’s where most people go badly wrong.
Customer: I don’t know really. I suppose I’d be comfortable spending around R5000?
You: (Authority) Great. And are you the final user and decision-maker?
Customer: that’s right, just me.
You: (Clarifying authority) Will anyone else be using the space? Do you have a partner or children that have any input?
Customer: No just me, I’ve been wanting to do this for a while.
You: (Need) Tell me about that, what are you looking to get done?
Customer: I want to sound-proof the room and prevent noise from coming in too. It’s not a noisy area I live in, but I have to be on video calls and interviews every day, so I need to guarantee as much quiet as possible.
You: (Need) OK, what else?
Customer: Well I’d like someone to install it for me.
You: (Need) OK great, what else?
Customer: I think that’s about it.
You: (Need) Can I ask the dimensions of the room, please? And would you be able to send over some photos of the space, as many as possible?
Customer: Sure it’s 2m by 2m by 2m, I’ll send the photos to your email.
You: (Timescale) Fantastic, thanks for that. And when are you looking to get started?
Customer: Sooner the better, if you had an appointment next week I’d take it.
You: (Suppliers) That’s great news, I’m sure we can do something quickly. Can I ask if you’re shopping around for quotes? And if so would you mind telling me who else you have in mind?
Customer: Yeah I’ve reached out to Quietfoam.com and Industrial Noise.
You: (Suppliers) What are you doing at the moment to adjust noise in your office and combat unwanted noise?
Customer: I’ve got a pair of noise-canceling headphones and a decent mic. But that doesn’t really help with external noise when I’m on a call.
You: OK Mr. Tindall, I’ll get a quote sent over.
Just a quick recap – you’re looking to eliminate and reduce the unwanted noise in your office and studio, which is used only by you, so you can appear on calls and interviews without interference. You’d like some help setting it up and you have a budget of around R5000, is that right?
Customer: That’s exactly it.
You: Fantastic, I’ll get that quote written up and have someone call you up to discuss it with you. Is next Tuesday at 3pm a good time?
Customer: Can someone just send the quote over?
You: Absolutely and we’ll send it over. We’ve just found we can get things moving faster if we have an expert on the phone with you as we go through the quote, that way we eliminate back and forth and can get you set up faster. Tuesday at 3pm?
Customer: Sounds good, I’ll speak to you then.
You: Thank you Mr. Tindall, speak soon.
BANTS got us everything we needed. It’s now up to us to decide if we want to continue working with Mr. Tindall or not.
His budget might be a bit low to have someone both install the audio and supply the parts. Maybe this is a case of upselling the installation?
Or maybe and more likely, the customer doesn’t need full sound-proofing, which is very expensive, and what he really needs is acoustic foam to dampen noise, which is a lot cheaper.
There are a lot of potential questions that come up during qualification like that, and it’s important that at this stage, you DON’T answer them.
I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s critical that we just qualify the customer and find out what we need.
On the call, we could have explained that his budget is a little low for everything he needs. But that’s ok because we’re going to do a sales call with him later and upsell him to a more expensive package that has everything he needs while keeping it affordable.
On the call, he might have also asked about types of foam, systems to sound-proof things, and other questions. Again, this is NOT the time to answer those questions.
Right now we’re just trying to figure out if we want the job. And although this might sound like it puts customers off, not answering their questions, it’s actually a huge advantage.
Why? Because you can easily hire people to qualify leads and get BANTS from them, without having to train them on sales processes or selling.
Customer: Can I ask if your acoustic foam is environmentally friendly?
Qualifier: Great question and to be honest I’m not the best person to ask. What I’ll do is write that in the notes and make sure that whoever writes the quote talks you through that when we call. Did you have any other questions?
Customer: Can I ask another annoying and inane question?
Qualifier/you: Great question, right now I just need to get the basics from you in order to send over our best price and quote. I’ll be sure to answer any and all questions you have a little later, is that OK?
Qualification calls are quick, to the point, and focused. 99% of people also don’t want to be on the phone. This is true of commercial and public sales. Selling to individuals or companies makes no difference, they’re all trying to figure out the same thing.
- Are you the best person to talk to?
- Should we be investing our time and resources into you?
- Can you afford us?