Discovery: BANT isn’t dead, it is a foundation

In Discovery ‘boot camp’ we have discussed best practices and tips for discovery/investigation calls. Focus and flexibility is key in these conversations. Ask open-ended questions and actively listen. Prepare with a list of discovery questions like ‘who, what, where, when, how?’ Tell me, explain to me, describe to me…

A great list of discovery questions is often standard across industries and then needs to be tailored to the individual client. Discovery needs to be opened, but structured enough to mine the data you need to drive the value to the customer so the deal goes forward.

To do this you need a ‘Discover methodology’ – a framework to help you navigate conversations in a meaningful way. Sales books come out every year with ‘new methods’ to get to ‘why’ but at the end of the day – all the methods are tied to core questions – the where, what, who, when, what and how?

BANT is a widely used methodology to vetting out the opportunities. It was developed by IBM to instruct salespeople to qualify with Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline. Some professionals claim that ‘BANT’ is dead – but I disagree. BANT is the foundation and any other methodologies build on BANT. Successful discovery cannot rely on one method – it has to be an integrated ecosystem. Each client is similar in that they have a business need and you want to help solve it. But you also cannot use one size fits all for every client.

BANT is the starting point, I argue that you need to ask all clients, but you need to go deeper.

Metaphorically the sales cycle is akin to building a house. You want your house to be built on a firm foundation – otherwise it will be condemned before you can move in. Sales needs to rely on discovery to build the foundation and each leg of the journey is building value and structure so when it comes time to close – the client purchases. When you don’t build a strong foundation – even the best value could lead to a lost sale because you didn’t ask BANT.

Budget – You must ask clients their budget during discovery. It can be an awkward question – but it is essential. I have not asked this on several calls and continued to work the deal thinking it was sure thing. At the last minute I found out that they did not have the budget for our project and the sale fell apart and this goes directly to:

Authority: Who are you speaking with? What is their role? Are they a decision maker or are they a champion. I’ve had colleagues who did a demo with the ‘facilities administrator’ thinking they had authority – but it turns out they were a janitor with not influence. (And I love janitors – they keep us clean, but 20 minutes of discovery is not going to benefit either one of you if they have no authority or champion role)

Need: Why are they reaching out to you (Inbound)? Why did they take your call? Sometimes need comes from the client, but often times the need has to be established on our end. We work as consultants – qualifying their situation so we can recommend and support the ‘need.’

Timeline: Like budget, this piece is often missed in Discovery. You focus on booking a follow-up meeting with the sales engineer – and update Salesforce with Q1 close date – but did you ask when they needed this to go live? When did they want to invest in this? What is the timeline

  • When you hear the client’s proposed timeline you are then able to use your sales skills to qualify them to move up that date based on their need or you will be able to disqualify the opportunity (we don’t have a business built yet and are just window shopping etc…)


Adding Competition to BANT is important. When you know who you are up against you can proactively provide the consultation and focus to ensure you win the sale.

BANT is not dead, rather it is the backbone of discovery…

Start with BANT but you can expand with other methods.

In my sales career I’ve been exposed to multiple methodologies and they all have advantages. The ones that stick the most (personally) are


  • Before Scenario; Negative Consequences, After Scenario, Positive Outcomes; Required Capabilities


  • Situation, Problem, Implication, NEED/Payoff


  • Time (ask for time), Role, Identify yourself as an Expert, Ask open ended questions (varies depending on orgs), Ask if they are the decision maker

MEDDICC (across sales cycle)

We’ll deep dive into how these methods can help you during discovery and across the sales journey in upcoming posts.

Which methods do you live by? Tell me what works for you…

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