The following terms are generally used in sales and could help you understand the sales industry further. Please note, these terms will vary from country to country. Sales and marketing teams are both responsible for the growth and revenue side of the business and yet sometimes talk a different language.
- ABC: Always be closing.
- AIDA: Attention, interest, desire, action.
- Benefit: The value of a product or service that a consumer of that product or service experiences. Benefits are distinct from features, and sales reps should sell based on benefits that are supported by features.
- BANT: Budget, authority, need, timeline.
B = Budget: Determines whether your prospect has a budget for what you’re selling.
A = Authority: Determines whether your prospect has the authority to make a purchasing decision.
N = Need: Determines whether there’s a business need for what you’re selling.
T = Timeline: Determines the time frame for implementation.
- Bullying: being unduly harassed and pressured unnecessarily in sales.
- Bottom of the funnel (BOFU) A stage of the buying process leads reach when they’re just about to close into new customers. They’ve identified a problem, have shopped around for possible solutions, and are very close to buying.
6a Buying process/cycle: The process potential buyers go through before deciding whether to make a purchase. Although it’s been broken down into many substages to align with different business models, it can universally be boiled down to these three life cycle stages.
- Always be closing: An antiquated sales strategy that basically says everything a sales rep does throughout the sales process is in pursuit of the singular goal of closing a deal.
- Buying signal: A communication from a prospect indicating they are ready to make a purchase, either verbal or nonverbal.
- Closed opportunities: An umbrella term that includes both closed-won and closed-lost opportunities, although some people use it to mean only closed-won opportunities.
9a. Closed-won: When a sales rep closes a deal in which the buyer purchases the product or service.
9b. Closed-lost: When a sales rep closes a deal in which the buyer does not purchase the product or service.
9c. Closing ratio: The percentage of prospects that a sales rep successfully close-wins. This ratio is usually used to assess individual sales reps on their short-term performance.
9d. Commission: The payment a sales rep gets when they successfully sell a product or service.
- CRM—customer relations management (tool): Software that lets companies keep track of everything they do with their existing and potential customers. At the simplest level, CRM software lets you keep track of all the contact information for these customers.
- Cold calling: Making unsolicited calls in an attempt to sell products or services. It’s also a very inefficient way to find potential customers.
- Consumer: A person who uses a product or service. They may not be the actual buyer of that product; for example, if I buy my brother a pair shoes, then my brother is the consumer of those shoes, not me.
- Competitor: A person or company that you are in sales competitive selling.
- Cross-selling: When a sales rep has more than one type of product to offer consumers that could be beneficial and he or she successfully sells a consumer more than one item either at the time of purchase or later on.
- Forecasting: Estimating future sales performance for a forecast period based on historical data. Forecasted performance can vary widely from actual sales results but helps sales reps plan their upcoming days, weeks, and months and helps high-level employees set standards for expenses, profit, and growth.
G = Goals: Determine the quantifiable goals your prospect wants or needs to hit. An opportunity for sales reps to establish themselves as an advisor by beginning to help prospects reset or quantify their goals.
P = Plans: Determine the prospect’s current plans that they’ll implement in order to achieve those goals.
C = Challenges: Determine whether the sales rep can help a prospect overcome their and their company’s challenges; ones they’re dealing with and ones they (or the sales rep) anticipate.
T = Timeline: Determines the time frame for implementation of their goals and plans and when they need to eliminate their challenges.
B = Budget: Determines how much money a prospect has to spend.
A = Authority: Determines who in the organization will help champion and/or decide to make a purchase.
C = Negative consequences: Discuss the negative things that’ll happen if a prospect doesn’t meet their goal.
I = Positive implications: Discuss the positive outcomes that’ll happen if a prospect meets their goal.
- KDM—Key decision maker: The person who, or role that, makes the final decision of a sale; they are often “guarded” by a gatekeeper.
- Lead qualification: The process of determining whether a potential buyer has certain characteristics that qualify him or her as a lead. These characteristics could be budget, authority, timeline, and so on.
- Loss leader: Used in retail to refer to a product sold at a low price (either at breakeven or at a loss) for the purpose of attracting customers into the store. The goal is for customers who go into the store to buy other items that are priced to make a profit.
- Margin: The difference between a product or service’s selling price and the cost of production.
- The funnel: The stage that a lead enters after identifying a problem. Now, they’re looking to conduct further research to find a solution to the problem. The stage is an entry into CRM.
- Top of the funnel: The very first stage of the buying process. Leads at this stage are identifying a problem they have and are looking for more information. At this point, marketers create helpful content that aids lead in identifying this problem and providing next steps toward a solution.
- Pipeline: The step-by-step process sales reps go through to convert a prospect into a customer. The sales pipeline is often divided into stages for each step in the sales process, and the sales rep is responsible for moving opportunities through the stages.
- Pipeline weighted: A more detailed version of a sales pipeline, in which each opportunity is given a specific value based on which stage they’re at in the sales process.
- Prospect sales call: The first call a sales rep makes to a prospect. Prospecting, the process of searching for and finding potential buyers. Sales reps (or “prospectors”) seek out qualified prospects and move them through the sales cycle.
A—Objection: A prospect’s challenge to or rejection of a product or service’s benefits and a natural part of the sales process. Common objections often have to do with budget, authority, need, and timing (see BANT). How sales reps handle objections plays a big role in determining whether a prospect will buy. Learn how to tackle common B2B sales objections here.
B—Opportunity: Although every company has different processes for defining what criteria make someone an opportunity, it’s basically when a qualified lead is being worked by Sales. See Qualified Lead for more information.
C—Pain point: A prospect’s pain point, or need, is the most important thing for a sales rep to identify in the selling process. Without knowing a prospect’s pain points, they can’t possibly offer benefits to help resolve those pain points.
D—Performance plan: Also “Performance Improvement Plan” or “PIP.” A sales rep is put on a performance plan if he or she doesn’t make a certain percentage of quota over a certain period of time. Performance plans vary from company to company, but they usually start with a written warning and further disciplinary action, including termination, if necessary. The purpose of performance plans is to set clear and specific performance goals, provide a means for feedback, and develop sales skills.
E—Positioning statement: Statements and questions that sales reps use when opening a sales call to engage the prospect in conversation around their pain points.
- Quota: A sales goal; a set amount of selling a sales rep is expect to meet over a given time frame, usually a month and/or a quarter. It’s very, very common for sales reps to have quotas; also, the form they take can vary from company to company and from role to role.
- Qualified lead: A contact that opted in to receive communication from your company, became educated about your product or service, and is interested in learning more. Marketing and Sales often have two different versions of qualified leads (MQLs for Marketing and SQLs for Sales), so be sure to have conversations with your sales team to set expectations for the types of leads you plan to hand over.
- Selling: A meeting between a seller and a buyer to discuss a proposition.
- Upselling: when a sales rep sells an existing customer a higher-end version of the product that the customer originally bought.
- Value proposition: A benefit of a product or company intended to make it more attractive to potential buyers and differentiate it from competitors.
- Slang terms you should know:
- Talk the talk: get the results. Get the business, achieve sales.
- Bluebird: guaranteed to put you in a cheerful mood, a bluebird is a lucrative sales opportunity that drops into your lap.
- In the bag: a sale that is said to be about to happen.
- Go live: the product is in use.
- Going to trial: the customer is trying before buying.
- Buying signals: the customer is showing buying signs.
- Closed question: a closed question is typically a yes-or-no question that directs a prospect toward making a choice or taking a position.
- Open question: the opposite of the preceding term.
- Emotional sale: using the customer’s emotions to draw the sale in.
Other Terms Used in Sales
- Active buyers: Buyers who are active in a buying journey and looking for solutions.
- Account executive: Sales team members that close deals with sales-qualified opportunities.
- Attention, interest, desire, action (AIDA): A method of motivating people to buy by gaining their attention, interest, and desire for the product and then inspiring them to take action.
- Account manager: A sales role responsible for managing a large customer account or group of large accounts.
- Awareness stage: The first stage of the buyer’s journey. A buyer who is at the awareness stage will have realized and expressed symptoms of a potential problem but will not yet know how to solve it.
- Before–after bridge (BAB): Cold e-mail formula. Open by describing a problem that is relevant to your prospect and then describe how the world would be different if that problem didn’t exist.
- Bounce rate (BR): The percentage of e-mail addresses that didn’t receive the message you sent because the message was returned by the mail server or client.
- Buyer persona: A representation of your ideal customer that describes who they are, what their objectives are, what motivates them, how they think, and where and when they buy.
- Customer acquisition cost (CAC): It is calculated by simply dividing all the costs incurred on acquiring more customers (marketing expenses) by the number of customers acquired in the period the money was spent.
- Customer churn rate: A metric used to measure customer retention and value. CR = (number of customers at beginning of measurement period – number of customers at end of measurement period)/(number of customers at beginning of measurement period).
- Customer lifetime value (CLV): A prediction that connects net profit to the entire future relationship of a customer.
- Click through rate (CTR): The percentage of people who clicked through, for example, on a link in an e-mail. For online ads, it is measured as the number of unique clicks divided by the number of times that an ad is shown (impressions).
- Conversion form: Also known as lead capture form, it is typically found on a landing page and collects details about visitors, usually in exchange for a content offer. When visitors complete a form for the first time, their information is added to your database, making them a lead.
- Conversion path: This is the lead capture journey site visitors go through. In a typical process, a visitor will first click a CTA that leads to a landing page and complete a conversion form (which redirects to a thank you page containing a content offer), causing them to convert to a lead.
- Conversion rate: The number of people who take an action divided by the number of people who could have.
- Cross-selling: The process of identifying current customers, determining the product or services that they aren’t using, and encouraging them to buy based on their need and a preexisting satisfaction with the company.
- Call-to-action (CTA): A sentence or phrase that tells people what to do, for example, “Schedule a call,” “Click here,” “Buy now.”
- Customer experience (CX): All the interactions a customer has with your business and could involve usage of your product, engaging with your website, communicating with your sales team, and so on.
- Customer journey: The customer journey spans a variety of touchpoints by which the customer moves from awareness to engagement and purchase. Successful brands focus on developing a seamless experience that ensures each touchpoint interconnects and contributes to the overall journey.
- E-mail workflow: A series of e-mails triggered when a lead enters your database. Typically starting with a thank you e-mail and access to a content offer, workflow e-mails are used to nurture leads and build a relationship through the funnel.
- E-mail service provider (ESP): A company that helps senders create and deliver e-mail campaigns.
- Emotional sale: A selling method that attempts to appeal to a buyer’s emotions by either generating desire and excitement around the product’s benefits or evoking negative emotions like fear and frustration: pain points that your product or service can alleviate.
- Features, advantages, benefits (FAB): An acronym used to remind salespeople to focus on the benefits a customer will gain from the product rather than on what they’re selling.
- Intellectual sale: This attempts to appeal to a prospect’s logic and their need for a quick, affordable solution to a problem. An intellectual sale is more “business” than “personal.”
- Marketing qualified lead (MQL): A lead that has demonstrated some level of interest in your product/service and fits criteria determined by the marketing team that indicates it is more likely to become a customer as compared with other leads.
- Marketing qualification representative (MQR): Inside sales reps tasked with following up with leads that have engaged with marketing content.
- Month-to-date (MTD): A period starting at the beginning of the current month and ending at the current date.
- Reply rate: A measurement of a number of people who respond to an e-mail. You can improve this by personalizing your e-mails.
- Request for proposal: An invitation issued by a company to solicit vendor bids for products, solutions, or services.
- Return on investment (ROI): What you get back from an investment of money, time, or talent.
- Software as a service (SaaS): Businesses that offer services via software available online or downloaded to your computer.
- Sales enablement: Providing inbound sales executives with the marketing insight and business intelligence (BI) they need to advise buyers at the right moment and build trusted relationships.
- Sales triggers: An event that creates an opening for a sales opportunity; for example, a company announcing that it’s expanding to a new location could present an upsell or introduction opportunity.
- Sandbagging: Holding off on closing active deals once you’ve already hit your quota/commission for the month so that you can more easily hit your numbers the following month.
- Side selling: Selling a complementary product or service to a prospect who is using a competitor for your main product.
- Smile and dial: Cold calling with a cheerful, positive tone of voice: a smile. Smiling communicates warmth and trustworthiness over the phone, making the prospect less likely to hang up on you. Even if people can’t see your smile, they can hear it.
- Sales-qualified lead (SQL): An SQL is the sales team affirming that it’s a good lead with a potential opportunity.