If you’re new to the sales world or want to understand it better, you’ll need to arm yourself with all the latest sales jargon. Sales, like most industries, has a specialized language those in the know are familiar with. While you wouldn’t use much sales terminology with a customer, you will use it when talking to other sales reps or managers.
Sales jargon helps salespeople communicate quickly and effectively with each other, while also signaling their confidence — and competence — with the tricks of their trade. As such, it’s crucial to have a working knowledge of sales terminology.
Our A-to-Z sales glossary will make sure you walk into your next meeting prepared to talk shop and impress your sales team.
A-Z Sales Terminology
To help organize sales and marketing terminology, we’ve put some common sales lingo in alphabetical order for your convenience.
In sales, A/B testing, otherwise known as split testing, refers to an experiment that compares two or more variants. Generally, the tests rely on market response to each option. For example, you might conduct an A/B test to see which version of a landing page converts more sales, on average.
Regardless of whether it is an individual or corporate customer, an account refers to the primary and background information on a client. These details could range from their contact information to their purchasing history and their preferences.
Account-based everything (ABE), also known as account-based revenue (ABR), is the framework a company uses to target a similar set of accounts. With ABE, you would make sure to personalize your marketing, customer success and sales strategies to a set of customer accounts. This structure will guide you through the customer lifecycle and help increase your conversion rate, along with customer satisfaction.
Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
ABM is a business marketing strategy where you focus on marketing and sales resources on a specific set of accounts within a market. You’ll personalize these marketing efforts for the needs of a segment of the market, increasing consumer engagement.
Account-Based Selling (ABS)
B2B companies primarily use this sales framework as an alternative to a contact-based or lead-based approach. ABS treats high-value accounts with incredible care, and will devote teams across your whole company to try to earn sales from these large accounts. Your organization will make sure their marketing and sales efforts are highly personal and will engage with the client through many different teams in your company.
Account Development Representative (ADR)
An ADR is a sales specialist who focuses on generating new leads for account executives.
An account executive is a business executive who manages a customer’s account. They will pay close attention to the interests and goals of existing clients to be of best service to them. To the clients they manage, the account executive is the face of the company.
Business-to-business, more commonly called B2B, is a model for building relationships with and selling to other businesses. A B2B company will have other companies as clients.
B2C stands for business-to-consumer, and is a model for engaging with and selling to consumers. A B2C company will have consumers as their clients.
Standing for budget, authority, need and timeline, BANT is a sales qualification methodology that evaluates whether a lead is worth pursuing. If a prospect does not have at least one of these four factors in place, it’s unlikely it will be worth pursuing them.
You can only hope a bluebird happens to you. The term describes a high-paying sales opportunity that comes to you without much, if any, effort on your part.
Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)
BOFU is the zone of the sales funnel where the prospect is almost ready to close on a purchase.
As an essential tool for many companies, a brag book is a collection of evidence that demonstrates your company’s successes. This evidence can come in the form of testimonials, pictures, case studies and many others. A brag book is helpful for sales team members who are trying to get a potential customer to trust they can deliver on their promise.
These signals are verbal or nonverbal cues from a potential customer that they are ready to close the deal and purchase a service or product.
Call for Proposal
This phrase refers to when an organization or individual calls for various companies to try to sell something to them. This organization or individual may be looking for a new product or service, and wants to get the best deal from a vendor. In these situations, companies will compete against each other to try to win the client’s business.
A closed question is one that usually only necessitates a short yes-or-no answer. Examples of ways sales professionals can use these questions are as follows.
- To push a customer to make a decision: “Are you ready to sign our contract?”
- To encourage them to take a position: “Do you like your current service?”
When a salesperson tries to speak with a prospect on the phone or in person without any prior contact with them, they are engaging in a cold call.
Similar to a cold call, a cold email is when a salesperson emails a prospect who has no knowledge of, or prior contact with, them.
When you cross-sell, you are selling complementary or similar products to existing customers. Many companies will attempt to cross-sell by marketing related products to previous customers.
Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC)
CAC is the amount of resources and costs required to acquire a new customer. To calculate CAC, all you need to do is divide the money and time spent on acquiring new customers in a given period by the number of new customers. This metric is valuable when you want to evaluate how much money you are spending while scaling up your business.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System
A CRM system is a sales pipeline management software that aims to help companies create deeper relationships. In a CRM system, you can manage contacts, keep track of the sales process and add insight into your client base.
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
Otherwise known as user lifetime value (ULV), CLV is a crucial stat to measure a customer’s value over the lifetime of their relationship with your company. To measure CLV, use a simple formula: customer revenue minus the cost it took to acquire and serve the customer.
Your deal flow relates to how fast your sales team receives new leads and sales opportunities.
A decision-maker is the person who has the final say-so on a sale or purchase.
When your marketing team attempts to create excitement or perceived need over a company’s service or product, they are engaging in a practice called demand generation. Sales professionals often use this style of marketing to promote new products, tap into fresh markets, increase customer loyalty and generate a buzz among consumers.
The amount of money given to a sales rep in advance is a draw. Companies that offer this type of advance base it on a salesperson’s future earning potential, and they will usually expect the salesperson to repay it. Companies tend to offer draws to help compensate sales reps while they are starting.
An emotional sale occurs when you try to appeal to a buyer’s emotions to get them to purchase a product. These tactics might play to a customer’s fears or anger about their experience, but they can also tap into more positive emotions, like their excitement or potential for more happiness with a new service.
FAB stands for features, advantages and benefits. It is a three-part structure sales reps can use to showcase the value of a product or service to a prospect. In this structure, you explain the features of the product or service, show the positives of said features and then relate those positives to specific benefits that would improve the prospect’s life.
Field Sales Rep
A salesperson who travels to meet prospects in person to pitch products and services is a field sales rep. More often than other sales reps, a field sales rep will handle high-end accounts.
A person who is in charge of filtering information to the decision-maker is in a gatekeeper role. A gatekeeper can be a receptionist or personal assistant who is the first point of contact before someone speaks to a decision-maker. Having someone in this position helps businesses filter out irrelevant information at the front line.
Any material coming into your company that shows interest in a service or product is an inbound lead. These can come in the form of cold emails, your website’s contact page and press inquiries, among others.
Inside Sales Rep
Unlike the field sales rep, an inside sales rep does their business on a computer and over the phone. Typically, these sales reps handle smaller accounts than other sales reps and are a common position in many companies.
The opposite of an emotional sale is an intellectual sale. These types of sales play to a prospect’s logical side. You will walk the potential client through how your product or service can solve their problems or add value to their life.
Land and Expand
This phrase refers to closing your first sale with a new customer, aka the landing, then generating more sales and revenue from the account through upselling or increasing what they buy from your company, or the expansion. Land and expand is a common tactic sales reps use to increase revenue from prospects.
When you engage in lead generation, your company will be attempting to create interest in a product or service you offer. Companies will typically generate leads through content marketing, advertising, referrals, outbound marketing and partnerships.
A sales rep can build rapport with prospects by imitating, or “mirroring,” their body language and speech patterns to subtly create a connection with them.
Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)
MRR refers to the total revenue generated from subscriptions. Businesses tend to use MRR to understand their business’ trajectory better.
MQL stands for marketing qualified leads, or potential customers. For a prospect to be considered an MQL, they will need to have shown sufficient interest or engagement in your product or service. Your marketing department will identify your MQLs and then give them to your sales team who will try to convert them to SQLs.
Net Promoter Score (NPS)
Companies use this 10-point rating system to measure customer happiness and loyalty, as well as their odds of referring new customers. Businesses typically measure an NPS score by one core question: “On a scale of one to 10, how likely are you to recommend [company name/product/service] to a friend or colleague?” If a customer’s score is high, ask them to refer your company’s services to others. If they score low, you can learn how to improve your service by asking them to explain why they are dissatisfied.
NSA is an acronym for non-sales-related activities, which refers to the responsibilities sales reps undertake that aren’t directly related to sales. These responsibilities might include paperwork, administrative tasks, sales meetings or training.
A response from a customer indicating their questions or concerns are preventing them from buying your product or service is called an objection. Common objections may include need, urgency, trust and money. Closing a sale comes down to anticipating and answering objections.
Companies using this strategy allow customers to try a product with no strings or obligations attached. The idea is if you let the customer sample the product for free, they will enjoy it so much that they don’t want to give it up and will end up buying it. Just like most people wouldn’t return a puppy after having it at home for a couple of days, most people aren’t going to return a product you let them take home, so they will end up buying it.
Sales Development Rep
This sales rep operates at the top of the sales funnel. Those in this position are often the first to contact a prospect, trying to decide if they should move down the sales funnel to a different sales rep. They do not try to close deals, as their goal is to set up the rest of their team for success.
As a mixture of a sales rep and an engineer, sales engineers specialize in selling technical, high-tech products to customers. They must have extensive familiarity with the product, knowing almost everything about it. Additionally, they must know how to communicate the benefits of the product in layman’s terms, answering any questions or objections the customer might have.
As a way to visualize the sales process, the sales pipeline shows how close a lead is to buying a product or service. Many businesses use it to visualize their current sales opportunities.
Sales Pipeline Coverage (SPC)
SPC is a way for sales managers to track the performance of their reps and ensure they are hitting quotas. It does this by comparing how full your pipeline is to the quota you need to meet in a given time. To calculate it, use the following formula: Pipeline Forecast / Sales Forecast = (Average Sales Days / 90 Days) * (1 / Close Rate).
Using this formula, if it takes your sales reps an average of 90 days to close, and their close rate is at 20%, your sales pipeline coverage ratio is five to one. If you want to hit your sales quota, the opportunities in your pipeline should be worth five times the quarterly sales forecast.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
An SQL is a potential customer who has shown sufficient interest in purchasing a product or service. Your sales and marketing teams should have already researched and vetted an SQL. Quota-carrying sales reps will handle SQLs.
This phrase refers to a practice where a salesperson delays closing deals because they have already met their quota for a set period. After the period ends, they will close the deal to meet their quotas for the new period more easily. Sandbagging can also refer to setting low expectations for a company or individual, so even small successes have more substantial weight.
Signup Conversion Rate
This rate is based on how many website visitors sign up or register as users. You can calculate it by dividing landing page visitors by those who ended up registering for a service or product.
Signup-to-Paying Conversion Rate
This metric shows how many registered users become paying customers. You can calculate this rate by dividing your registered users by users who began paying for a product or service during a given period.
Smile and Dial
Though a customer can’t see your smile over the phone, they will be able to sense it. As a result, it’s a practice for cold-callers to make sure they have a positive tone paired with a smile while they speak with a prospect. Going in with a warm and trustworthy demeanor will keep prospects on the phone longer and cause them to not hang up on you.
A tire-kicker refers to a prospect who either does not have the intention or means to buy. Tire-kickers may not have the budget or authority to purchase your product. Ultimately, a tire-ticker is a time-waster, and you should cut them loose.
Top of the Funnel (TOFU)
TOFU represents the beginning of the sales process. A TOFU lead will have shown some interest in your product and service and will be looking for more information. Sales development reps typically nurture these leads before moving them down the funnel.
Upselling occurs when you convince a customer to buy a more expensive product than they originally intended, causing the sale to increase in value. Another way to upsell is to sell complementary services or products along with the original product the customer decided to buy.
Weighted Sales Pipeline
Companies that use a weighted pipeline recognize not all opportunities and prospects are going to end in a sale. In each stage of the pipeline, an opportunity gets assigned a value based on how likely they are to end up purchasing your product or service. The probability will continue to rise as an opportunity moves further down the pipeline. Many businesses use a weighted sales pipeline to predict their future revenue better.
Whale (or White Whale)
Named after the elusive white whale in Moby-Dick, a whale is a prospect that could bring in a considerable amount of sales revenue for your organization. These prospects are rare, and sales teams will put all their effort into landing one.
After receiving a draw as a salesperson, you will usually need to pay it back. Once you’ve brought your draw balance back to zero, you will have zeroed out your account. Zeroing out is especially important to do, since you will not be able to earn commissions until you’ve done so.
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And, if you’re interested in learning more about the sales industry, our blog contains lots of useful information to help you feel even more confident in your sales knowledge.
If you have any questions, drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.