To successfully close a B2B deal, you need to know what the decision-making unit, or DMU, looks like. The DMU consists of the people within the company who make the decision to buy.
BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) is commonly used to qualify these opportunities and identify the various roles of the DMU. However, I’ve run into many situations in the past 35 years where BANT isn’t adequate. After all, the purchasing process has become far more complex since the invention of BANT as a qualification framework.
In addition, BANT is out of order. You generally don’t start the sales conversation with the “B,” or budget holder. Typically, you begin speaking with someone who has a problem you can solve -- the person with the need, or “N.”
For these reasons, I’ve created a new framework that both covers the important roles of the DMU and puts the components in order: NAMAT.
This person benefits from the purchase. They tend to be the end user or a product developer.
If your investigation stage starts with this person, ask questions like:
- How important is the problem?
- What would happen if you don’t address it?
- What are your criteria for choosing a vendor?
- What are your criteria for choosing a product?
This person or department has veto power. In other words, they can block the sale. This could be a purchasing department with a preferred vendor policy, an IT department with specific requirements regarding security issues, or a user forum.
Questions that you might want to ask this person or department include:
- Which procedures, if any, must be followed?
- Do you require any certificates?
- What are your requirements for suppliers and products?
This person or stakeholder is responsible for the budget -- a finance department, a profit & loss responsible manager, etc.
Use these three questions:
- When is the budget available?
- What are the criteria for budget approval?
- What happens if the budget runs out before a necessary purchase is made?
This person has the power to sign off a purchase order. Generally, this is a higher-level manager, the purchaser, or the CFO. They can be “hands on,” meaning they are involved in the details of the purchase, or just the formal approver. Make sure that your questions meet their level of authority. Some examples are:
- What do you know about the details of product X?
- What are the criteria for signing contracts?
- What is required regarding contract duration, terms and conditions, and payment conditions?
- Do you want to stay in the loop about this purchase, and if so, how?
Get a clearer picture of where the power lies by asking any of the following questions to every person you meet with:
- What does the decision making process look like?
- Who else is going to [use, work with] product X?
- Who else needs to approve this?
- Who else is involved in setting the budget?
- Whose name will go on the contract?
Although not a “role,” timing is an essential factor of qualification.
What is the moment that the customer wants to buy? This could depend on an existing contract, the budget year, the realization of a project milestone, and so on.
Questions that can be asked to discover timing aspects are:
- Are you currently contracted with someone else? Until when?
- How much does this problem cost per [day, week, month, year]? How quickly do you want it solved?
- How much would you save if you solved this problem quickly?
- When do you want to start?
- What are the deadlines and bottlenecks associated with this project?
- What is the latest moment to decide?
- Which other priorities do you have?
To increase your chances of getting the order, pay attention to every contact who has one or more roles in NAMAT. Remember, these roles can be taken by separate people or in any combination by one or more people. And don’t forget the influencers: Each of the decision makers in the DMU will be influenced by other people inside or outside of the company.
Successfully mapping out the key decision makers will help you avoid internal obstacles and close more quickly. Use this framework to understand how to get the deal over the finish line.