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The 105 most common sales terms explained

The 105 most common sales terms explained

20
min read

Whether you're just starting out in sales or you're a veteran who’s stumbled upon an unfamiliar acronym, a glossary like this one can work wonders.

While most sales teams are supportive and kind, it can sometimes feel intimidating not to know the particular lingo of your team. Learning these terms can boost your confidence as you communicate with fellow sales and marketers. Happy browsing!

<a href="#sales-terms-a-to-b" class="anchor-link">Sales terms A to B</a>

<a href="#sales-terms-c-to-g" class="anchor-link">Sales terms C to G</a>

<a href="#sales-terms-h-to-o" class="anchor-link">Sales terms H to O</a>

<a href="#sales-terms-p-to-w" class="anchor-link">Sales terms P to W</a>

<a href="#streak-crm" class="anchor-link">Streak CRM</a>

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Sales terms A to B

ABC (Always Be Closing)

ABC, which stands for “Always Be Closing” is a sales strategy emphasizing the importance of persistently moving a potential customer toward the sale. For example, a car salesperson may always steer conversations toward signing the purchase agreement.

Account

An account is a customer or potential customer that has its own set of dealings and records with a sales organization. For instance, a software company may have a large healthcare prospect, like a hospital, as a prospective account.

Account development representative (ADR)

This is a sales role focused on identifying and developing potential accounts. An ADR at a tech firm may research and engage mid-sized companies to introduce new software solutions.

Account executive (AE)

This sales role is responsible for managing relationships with existing accounts and closing deals. For example, an account executive might oversee the business relationship with a key retail partner.

Account-based selling

With account-based selling, salespeople or marketers develop individual strategies to target key decision-makers at high-value accounts. A marketing agency creating a customized pitch specifically for a large corporate client is an example.

Ad hoc reporting

This is custom or spontaneous reporting created to answer specific business questions. A sales manager requesting a one-time report on last quarter's regional sales figures is an example.

Adoption process

This is the series of stages a user or organization goes through when adopting a new product or service. For example, a company transitioning to a new project management software may go through awareness, consideration, trial, and full adoption stages.

AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, Action)

This is a classic sales model from direct response copywriting that describes the stages a consumer goes through before purchasing. For instance, an advertisement first grabs attention, builds interest and desire, and then calls for action to buy the product.

Annual contract value (ACV)

This is the average annualized revenue per customer contract, excluding one-time fees. For example, a company's ACV for a subscription service might be $10,000 per year per contract.

Annual recurring revenue (ARR)

ARR is the total revenue generated from all active subscriptions or contracts in a year. For instance, a cloud storage company might report an ARR of $5 million.

Bad leads

Bad leads are prospects that are unlikely to turn into customers due to lack of fit or interest. For example, a bad lead for an expensive luxury car brand might be a new, 16-year-old driver with no income.

BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing)

This is a framework used to determine a prospect's viability as a sales opportunity. For instance, a sales rep may qualify a lead by ensuring they have the budget, authority to decide, a clear need, and a suitable timeline. If they don’t tick all the boxes, the lead isn’t qualified.

Benefits

These are the advantages or positive outcomes that a product or service offers to the customer. For example, a smartphone's benefits might include its high-quality camera for taking beautiful photos.

Bluebird sales

These are unexpected sales opportunities that appear without any significant effort from the sales team. For example, a customer may unexpectedly place a large order without any prior sales engagement.

Bottom of the funnel (BOFU)

BOFU is the final stage in the buying process where prospects are about to make a purchasing decision. A prospect at the BOFU stage might be ready to request a final quote or contract terms.

Business development representative (BDR)

This is a sales role focused on generating new opportunities to expand the business. This usually means adding a new partnership. A biz-dev rep may cold-call or email potential clients to schedule initial meetings.

Business intelligence (BI)

Business intelligence is the use of data analysis to support and improve business decision-making. A company may use business intelligence to identify the most profitable sales territories.

Business to business (B2B)

A B2B company sells to other businesses rather than consumers. A software company selling licensing agreements to other businesses is an example.

Business to consumer (B2C)

On the other side are businesses that sell to consumers and not other companies, like an online retailer selling clothes directly to individuals.

Buyer behavior

This sales term means the actions and decision-making processes of individuals or organizations as they purchase goods or services. Buyer behavior analysis might reveal that most customers in a certain niche prefer shopping online late at night.

Buyer persona

This is a detailed profile of an ideal customer based on market research and real data. As an example, a buyer persona for a luxury car brand might include high-income professionals aged 30 to 50.

Buying criteria

This is the set of attributes or requirements that a buyer wants or needs from a product or service. The buying criteria for a new office printer may include price, speed, ink replacement costs, and connectivity features.

Buying intent/buying signal

Buying intent is the likelihood that a prospect intends to purchase. A buying signal is what they do to show that intent. A prospect downloading a pricing guide is a signal that shows strong buying intent.

Buying process

The buying process is the series of steps that a buyer goes through, from recognizing a need to making a purchase decision. For example, the buying process for enterprise software may include need recognition, solution research, and vendor evaluation.

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Sales terms C to G

Cases/tickets

These are customer support inquiries or problems that need to be resolved. A telecom company may receive cases regarding service outages or billing issues, for example.

Churn rate

This is the percentage of customers who stop using a company's product or service over a specific period. A subscription service might have a churn rate of 5% per month, which means 5% of users stop each month.

Closed opportunities

These are sales deals that have concluded, whether won or lost. A sales dashboard may show 10 closed opportunities for the month, indicating the number of deals concluded.

Closed-lost

This sales opportunity has ended and did not result in a sale. For instance, after several negotiations, the prospect chose a competitor's product, making the opportunity closed-lost.

Closed-won

This is what all salespeople strive for: a sales opportunity that has been successfully converted into a sale.

Closing ratio

The closing ratio is the percentage of deals won compared to the total number of opportunities. A salesperson with a closing ratio of 25% wins one out of every four deals presented to them. Whether that’s good or bad depends on the sales team’s benchmarks and goals.

Cloud-based CRM

This is customer relationship management software hosted on the cloud and accessible over the internet. For example, Streak is a cloud-based CRM that enhances Gmail with sales tools for reps to track leads and close deals.

Cold calling

This is the practice of contacting potential customers who have not expressed interest in your services and probably don’t know you exist. Cold calling (and cold emailing) is the lifeblood of many businesses.

Commission

This is the payment a salesperson receives based on the sales they generate. Organizations use various structures to calculate and pay sales commissions, but commission is most often calculated as a percentage of the sale price. A real estate agent might earn a 3% commission on the homes they sell.

Contract management

This is the process of creating, negotiating, and executing sales contracts. For example, a software provider tracks renewal dates for customer licenses to ensure agreements are updated or extended on time.

Conversion

These are the golden moments when prospects turns into customers or a website visitor fills out a contact form and becomes a lead. When someone is moving from one deal stage to the next, that’s conversion.

Conversion path

This is the series of steps that a prospect takes that leads to a conversion. A simple example is when someone clicks on an ad, lands on a landing page, signs up for a webinar, and then buys a service.

Conversion rate

The conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who take a desired action. Example: If 100 people visit a landing page and five of them make a purchase, the conversion rate is 5%. If you’re an affiliate marketer, the conversion might be someone filling out a lead form from your content.

CPQ software

Configure, price, and quote software that helps companies generate sales quotes. A sales rep might use CPQ software to create a detailed quote for a complex product configuration quickly.

Cross-selling

This is the act of selling related or complementary products to an existing customer. When the salesperson at the Apple Store gets you to buy AirPods along with your new phone, they’re cross-selling.

Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

This is the total cost of acquiring a new customer. If a company spends $1,000 on marketing and gains 10 customers, the CAC is $100.

Customer lifetime value (CLV)

This is the total revenue a company can expect from a single customer. As an example, if a customer spends $50 annually and remains with the brand for 10 years, their CLV is $500.

Customer relationship management (CRM) tools

CRMs help you track leads and existing customers throughout your sales process. Most CRMs allow you to track details about each deal as well as interactions you and your team have had with a lead. You can use a CRM like Streak to track leads and close deals.

Customer success manager (CSM)

This role makes sure customers achieve their desired outcomes while using a product or service. A customer success manager often onboards and manages clients to ensure they effectively use the software.

Data entry/processing

This is the process of recording and handling data. An example is inputting customer information into a database from survey forms. Today, you can speed up a lot of data processing with automation.

Decision maker

This is the person with authority to make a purchase decision. If you sell software tools, you might be targeting the chief technology officer at a company for a pitch.

Demand generation techniques

These are marketing activities that drive awareness and interest in a product or service. Some examples include hosting a webinar to attract and educate potential customers about a product or running paid social ad campaigns.

Direct sales

This is the process of selling products or services directly to consumers without intermediaries. An example is a salesperson who visits homes to sell vacuum cleaners. Multi-level marketing companies often use direct sales, as well.

Discovery call

This is an initial call to learn about a prospect's needs and challenges. It usually happens after a lead has expressed interest and is qualified on some level.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP)

This is the integrated management of business processes, often in real-time and mediated by software. A manufacturer may use ERP software to manage inventory, procurement, and sales data.

Escalations

Escalating a ticket refers the customer to higher levels of authority for resolution.

Feature

A distinct attribute or function of a product. For example, a watch might have 100 meters of water resistance. This is different from the benefit, which would be that the user can wear the watch in a swimming pool, in this case.

Field sales rep

This is a salesperson who meets with potential clients in person. For example, medical device sales reps visit hospitals to demonstrate products.

Flywheel

The sales flywheel is an alternative to the sales funnel that illustrates the momentum a business can gain by focusing on the customer experience. For example, improving product quality increases customer satisfaction, which in turn drives referrals and repeat sales.

Forecasting

This is the practice of predicting future sales performance. A sales manager estimates the next quarter's revenue based on current sales pipeline data, for instance.

Gatekeeper

This is a person who controls access to decision-makers. For instance, an executive assistant who decides which sales calls reach the CEO can be a gatekeeper.

GPCTBA/C&I frameworks

These sales framework acronyms stand for Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline, Budget, Authority, or Negative Consequences and Positive Implications. Sales reps can use this framework to understand a prospect's buying process and tailor a sales pitch.

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Sales terms H to O

Hard sell

This is an aggressive sales technique where you won’t let the customer say no or wait to decide. A home warranty salesperson might use high-pressure tactics to convince a customer to buy immediately.

Inside sales rep

This is a salesperson who sells remotely via the phone or internet. An example is a software company rep who closes deals through online demos and phone calls.

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

These are metrics used to evaluate success. Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) can be a KPI for subscription-based businesses.

Knowledge base

This is a centralized repository of information. For example, an online help center where customers can find answers to common questions.

Lead

This is your bread and butter: a potential customer who has shown interest in your company’s products.

Lead generation

This is the process of attracting and converting strangers into leads. You might gate an ebook to collect the contact details of attendees, for instance.

Lead management

This is the process of tracking leads to convert them into customers. You can use a CRM system like Streak to monitor the progress of leads through the sales funnel.

Lead qualification

Lead qualification is the process of evaluating whether a lead is likely to become a customer. Assessing if a lead has the budget and authority to make a purchase can be part of the qualification process.

Lead scoring

This is a methodology to rank prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents to the organization. You might assign points to leads based on their job title, company size, and interaction with your company's website.

Loss Leader

This is a product sold at a low price (at cost or below cost) to stimulate other profitable sales.

For instance, a store might sell printers at a discount to increase sales of high-margin ink cartridges.

LTV:CAC

The ratio of lifetime value (LTV) to customer acquisition cost (CAC). An LTV of $300 and a CAC of $100 would result in an LTV: CAC ratio of 3. The higher the number, the better.

Margin

The margin is the difference between the selling price of a product or service and the cost of producing it. Selling a product for $150 that costs $100 to produce gives a margin of $50.

Marketing-qualified lead (MQL)

This is a lead judged more likely to become a customer compared to other leads based on lead intelligence. For example, a lead who has downloaded several whitepapers and attended a product webinar is marketing-qualified.

Markup

Markup is the amount added to the cost price of goods to cover overhead and profit. Adding a $30 markup to a product that costs $70 would result in a selling price of $100. 

Middle of the funnel (MOFU)

This is the stage in the buying process where leads are considering a company's product or service but have not made a final decision. They could still be comparing other options.

Monthly recurring revenue (MRR)

This is the amount of predictable revenue that a company expects to receive every month.

A subscription-based service charging $10 per month with 100 subscribers would have an MRR of $1,000.

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The Net Promoter Score is a metric used to measure the willingness of customers to recommend a company's products or services to others. To get it, ask your customers how likely they are to recommend your company from zero to ten. “Promoters” answer with nine or ten. “Detractors” answer with zero through six. Subtract the percentage of promoters from the percentage of detractors for the score.

Objection

This is a concern or question raised by a prospect that could potentially prevent a sale from closing. An example is a prospect worrying about the compatibility of software with their current systems.

On-premise CRM

This is customer relationship management software that is installed and runs on computers on the premises of the person or organization using the software.

Onboarding

This is the process of integrating a new customer or employee into the organization and getting them up to speed. You might have a training program for new users of a software product, for example.

Opportunity

This is a qualified lead that has been assessed as having a high probability of becoming a customer. A lead requesting a quote or proposal is considered an opportunity.

Opportunity management

Opportunity management is the process of tracking and managing opportunities to maximize the chances of converting them into sales. An example is using a CRM like Streak to schedule follow-up calls and track communication with potential buyers.

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Sales terms P to W

Pain point

This is a specific problem that prospective customers of your business are experiencing. One common pain point among small businesses is the struggle to manage their finances efficiently.

Pipeline

Your pipeline is a visual representation of where prospects are in the sales process. A CRM dashboard showing how many leads are in initial contact, qualified, proposal, negotiation, and won stages is an example.

Pipeline management

This is the process of overseeing and directing future sales in various stages of the sales pipeline. You might regularly review the sales pipeline to ensure leads move towards a sale.

Positioning statement

A positioning statement is a declaration that communicates a company's unique value to its customers in relation to its competitors. For example, "Our software is the easiest for small businesses to use, guaranteed."

Profit margin

Your profit margin is how much revenue from sales exceeds costs in a business. For instance, generating $200,000 in sales and incurring $150,000 in costs results in a profit margin of $50,000.

Prospect

This is a potential customer who has been researched and vetted to some degree, but is not yet qualified as a lead. A person identified at a networking event who fits the target market profile but has not expressed interest yet could be a prospect.

Prospecting

This is the process of searching for potential customers, clients, or buyers to convert into new business. You might make cold calls, send LinkedIn DMs, or craft personalized emails to a list of potential leads in the process of prospecting.

Quota

A quota is a sales target set for a salesperson or sales team. Your company might have a quota to sell $50,000 worth of products in a quarter, for example.

Sales coach

This is a mentor or advisor focused on improving sales team effectiveness. A sales coach may observe a representative's calls and provide feedback to help improve communication skills.

Sales dashboard

A sales dashboard is a visual tool that displays key sales metrics at a glance. The metrics might be daily sales volume and conversion rates or something else.

Sales development representative (SDR)

This is a salesperson who specializes in outreach, prospecting, and qualifying leads. An SDR often cold-calls potential clients to gauge interest before passing qualified leads to account executives.

Sales enablement

Sales enablement is the provision of tools, resources, and training to increase sales effectiveness. As an example, if a company implements a new CRM system to streamline lead management for its sales team, that’s considered a sales enablement strategy.

Sales funnel

The sales funnel model depicts the stages of a customer's journey from initial awareness to purchase. A basic funnel may have the stages of new lead, contacted, follow up, negotiating, and closed won or closed lost. Funnel reports help you understand where your leads are dropping off throughout the process.

Sales methodology

A sales methodology is a framework or set of principles guiding a sales process. For example, a sales team may adopt the SPIN selling methodology, focusing on Situation, Problem, Implication, and Need-payoff questions.

Sales pipeline coverage

This is a ratio that compares the potential revenue in the pipeline to the sales target. For example, say you have a sales target of $30,000 this month. Your pipeline includes $90,000 worth of prospects. Your coverage would be 3:1, which is good.

Sales script

A script is a prewritten guide for sales calls or pitches. For example, you might give new hires a sales script to help them discuss product features and handle objections while they’re still ramping up.

Sales wordsmith

Similar to blacksmiths or silversmiths of bygone days, a sales wordsmith is a person who is good at crafting persuasive sales messages.

Service level agreement (SLA)

This is a contract that defines the level of service expected from a service provider. As an example, the SLA between a cloud provider and its client might specify 99.9% uptime and 24/7 customer support.

Social selling

This is the process of using social networks to find and engage with prospects. For example, it’s when a sales rep uses LinkedIn to share industry insights and connect with potential buyers via social media.

Soft sell

A soft sell is a subtle, non-aggressive sales approach. For example, a salesperson may focus on relationship-building rather than pushing for an immediate sale.

Sound bite

This is a short, memorable phrase designed to capture attention. A CEO's sound bite, "Revolutionizing the way you do business," might be used in a company's marketing materials, for instance.

Stage

This is a basic step within the sales funnel or sales process. After the initial contact, prospects move to the evaluation stage, for example.

Top of the funnel (TOFU)

This is the earliest phase in the sales funnel, where you create awareness. As an example, you can use content marketing to attract a broad audience at the top of the funnel.

Upselling

This is the process of selling a more expensive or premium version of a product to an existing customer. If you enter the Apple Store to buy an iPhone 12, but come out with an iPhone 14, you’ve been upsold.

Value chain

This is a series of activities that a company performs to deliver a valuable product or service. A manufacturer's value chain can include design, production, marketing, and distribution.

Value proposition

The value proposition is a statement that summarizes why a customer should buy a product. It should highlight the product's unique features and benefits it offers customers.

Weighted pipeline

This is a method of forecasting sales that factors in the probability of deals closing at each stage of the pipeline. With enough data on different deals in the pipeline, a company can better forecast expected revenue.

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Bonus sales term: Streak

We have a bonus term for you. Streak is a CRM in Gmail that lets you manage your sales pipeline right from your inbox. Whether you follow the ABC approach or prefer the soft sell, you can track any type of sale within Streak.

With Streak installed, your Gmail account turns into a fully functional CRM that captures data on deals through customizable workflows. Streak also makes it easy to collaborate with team members within prospect conversations and share full conversations through simple URLs.

Plus, you can use Streak AI to plan discovery call questions based on past conversations or brainstorm ideas within the platform. Try Streak for free and harmonize your sales tactics with just a few clicks.

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