Commonly used lead generation industry terminology, phrases, and slang related to outsourced lead generation.

  • ABC (Always Be Closing) -

    It is a sales strategy made famous by the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross” and is rooted behind the idea that every step a sales rep takes throughout the sales process should be aimed towards closing a sale. Neil Rackham found in his research that led to the book SPIN Selling, that using sales techniques supported by the “Always be Closing” mantra reduces sales when selling a complexed item or service. So, while it may work for small transactional sales, this approach is not effective in the more complexed world of B2B sales.

  • ABM (Account Based Marketing) -

    ABM is a strategic framework that engages qualified customer accounts in a more holistic way and treats them as unique markets in themselves, worthy of focused, hyper-personalized treatment by sales, marketing, and other teams. An ABM strategy targets certain accounts with a synchronized, continuous set of marketing and sales activities. ABM activities engage those accounts and individuals through all stages of the buying journey.

  • Active Listening -

    Term used to describe higher levels of listening activities, involves actively seeking to understand how the customer or prospect feels and what are their personal and business issues to be addressed during the sales process. Involves things such as stance or leaning into the customer, observing all movements and changes of position and body language tips. And, the key is asking questions for clarity and understanding.

  • Added Value -

    the element(s) of service or product that a salesperson or selling organization provides, that a customer is prepared to pay for because of the benefit(s) obtained. Added values are real or perceived, tangible or intangible. A good, reliable, honest, expert, informed salesperson becomes a very significant part of the selling organization’s added value, as perceived by the customer, if not by the selling organization.

  • Appointment Setting -

    Often confused with lead generation, appointment setting is a process where reps or an outsourced service provider are tasked with setting appointments for a sales team. The usual problem with this approach is appointment setters are focused (and often incented) to set appointments. Typically, these appointments are not qualified, and thus, a waste of time for most sales reps. You get what you pay for!

  • B2B (Business-to-Business) -

    B2B is a common acronym used to describe businesses that sell to other businesses vs businesses that sell to consumers.  (See Also: B2C) 

  • B2C (Business-to-Consumer) -

    B2C is a common acronym used to describe businesses that sell to consumers vs businesses that sell to other businesses.  (See Also: B2B)

  • Bad Data -

    The bane of most salespeople’s existence, bad data typically describes most marketing provided “lead list.”  More accurately, “bad data” is typically used to describe company or contact data that is wrong or out of date. 

  • BANT -

    A methodology for qualifying leads in which a sales rep confirms that a prospect has the Budget, Authority, Need and Timeline to buy. If any of those factors aren’t in place, it is considered unlikely that a sale will be made.

  • BDR -

    Business Development Representative (or SDR, Sales Development Representative) are typically responsible for outbound prospecting.  They reach out to new potential clients who might be interested in the products/services a company sells and qualify leads for the organization. (See Also: SDR) 

  • Blue Bird -

    Guaranteed to put you in a cheerful mood (and alienate your peers), a bluebird is a lucrative sales opportunity that drops into your lap unexpectedly and without much effort.

  • BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel) -

    When a prospect enters the bottom of the sales funnel, they are nearing the point where they likely will make a purchase decision.  In other words, they have made it through higher-funnel stages like qualification, and they are ready to be closed. (See also: TOFU)

  • BQLs -

    (BDR Qualified Leads) – A qualified lead that has been generated by a Business Development Rep but not yet accepted by sales.  (See Also: SQL) 

  • Brag Book -

    A collection of testimonials, case studies, or pictures collected from satisfied customers. A sales rep can present their brag book to prospects to illustrate their prior successes and how they’ve exceeded their clients’ expectations. 

  • Buyer's Journey -

    The Buyer’s Journey is the process that a buyer (corporate or consumers) goes through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service.  It consists of three stages:  

    a. Awareness –  Realizing a need or pain to be solved 

    b. Consideration – Researching options and gathering information 

    c. Decision – Deciding to purchase (or not) and from were 

    Sales reps commonly make the mistake of focusing too much on their sales process and not enough on where the buyer is in their journey.  

  • Buying Committee -

    According to a recent Harvard Business Review study, the number of people involved in B2B solutions purchases has climbed from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today, and these stakeholders come from a lengthening roster of roles, functions, and geographies. Challenges in buying committee coverage have caused many a promising B2B deal to go off the rails.  Winning buy–in from multiple decision makers is considered one of the toughest challenges for the modern B2B salesperson.  Large enterprises sometimes have a dozen or more people with significant influence on purchases. 

  • Buying Signal -

    Cues from a prospect that they are ready to buy.  Buying signals can be either verbal (i.e., asking about price) or non-verbal (i.e., nodding and holding eye contact.)

  • CAC (Cost of Customer Acquisition) -

    Customer acquisition cost is the total cost related to acquiring a new customer. In other words, CAC refers to the resources and costs incurred to acquire an additional customer. Customer acquisition cost is a key business metric that is commonly used alongside the customer lifetime value (LTV) metric to measure value generated by a new customer.

  • Cadence -

    Customer acquisition cost is the total cost related to acquiring a new customer. In other words, CAC refers to the resources and costs incurred to acquire an additional customer. Customer acquisition cost is a key business metric that is commonly used alongside the customer lifetime value (LTV) metric to measure value generated by a new customer.

  • Call Flow -

    Call Flow or a Call Flow document is a term that describes a sales prospecting enablement tool that is designed to support a lead generation effort by providing Talk Tracks, key questioning strategies, objection handling and other sales engagement tools to assist with the sales prospecting process. A Call Flow approach is superior to a Call Script approach because it anticipates the need to adapt and tailor messing to each unique prospect.

  • CAN-SPAM -

    The CAN-SPAM Act, a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them (opt out or unsubscribe), and spells out tough penalties for violations. Despite its name, the CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t apply just to bulk email. It covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email. That means all email – for example, a message to former customers announcing a new product line – must comply with the law.

  • Challenger -

    The Challenger Sales model is a sales methodology that was made famous by the book The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson.  The methodology talks about five selling personality traits: 

    1. Relationship Builders 
    2. Hard Workers  
    3. Lone Wolves 
    4. Reactive Problem Solvers 
    5. Challengers 

    The Challenger approach emphases the T-T-T process or Tailor, Teach and Take-Control.  The Challenger sales methodology is a unique approach that emphasizes delivering insight to potential buyers to establish credibility and position yourself as a trusted advisor.  

  • Channel Conflict -

    Channel conflict is as any dispute, difference or discord arising between two or more sales channels or channel partners, where one channel’s activities are in competition with the business, sales, profitability, market share or similar goal accomplishment of the other channel. 

  • Chargeback (or Claw Back) -

    Chargebacks are exactly what they sound like. When a salesperson earns commission in advance on a sale, typically of a service meant to last a certain period of time, they may have to pay a portion of that commission back if the service is terminated before a certain point.   

  • Churn Rate -

    Churn rate is the rate at which a company loses customers annually. Churn rate is important in any sales or revenue growth planning in that growth is only achieved when new business adds exceed customer churn. As an organization grows larger the churn rate because an ever more significant challenge.

  • Closed Lost -

    A closed lost opportunity is when a deal closes without the prospect converting into a buyer. In other words, the opportunity was lost to a competitor.

  • Closed Question -

    The opposite of an open-ended question, a closed question is typically a yes-or-no question that directs a prospect toward making a choice or providing a simple one-word answer. (Example: “Are you happy with your current supplier?”)

  • Closed Won -

    Closed Won is the status of an opportunity where the deal has been closed with the prospect/lead who is now considered a customer.

  • Cold Calling -

    Cold calling is a form of sales prospecting in which a salesperson attempts to develop business from potential customers who have not previously expressed interest in the seller’s product or solution.

  • Commission -

    Commission is the amount of money a sales professional earns for reaching a specific sales volume or for executing one or more business transactions. This is the driving motivation for many a sales professional.

  • Conversion -

    Conversion can be used in several different contexts. Most commonly, it describes the the process of turning a prospect into a paying customer. In a broader sense it can describe the point at which a prospect performs a specific action favorable to a marketer or a seller. For example, a prospect converts into a SQL or a SQL converts into a Close Won.

  • Conversion Rate -

    Conversion Rate is a sales performance metric that measures the success in converting leads from one step in the process to another. It is usually used to measure the Lead conversation rate into Sales Qualified Opportunities but can be used in any step in the process, MQL to SQL for example.

  • Cost of Sales -

    The cost of sales is all cost associated with acquiring a new customer, including compensation of field sellers, demonstration and other related product cost, and other technology expense.

  • CRM -

    Customer Resource Management is a technology that was originally developed to help sale reps manage sales opportunities but has evolved into a do-all system that that handles everything from prospecting to pipeline management to customer service.  Most would agree that CRM systems have spun out of control to the point that they impede sales progress, waste countless hours, and provide little to no value to sales efficiency.  (See Also: My manager still wants it in a spreadsheet… just kidding, we didn’t include that entry)

  • Customer Buying Journey -

    The Customer Buyer Journey is like the Customer Buying Process but includes more aspects of what the buyer is feeling, thinking and doing along the way.  While the Customer Buying Process usually depicts the specific steps that a company employs when they make a purchase decision, the Buyer’s Journey encompasses early discovery, research, and other broader aspects of the customer journey.  Understanding the Buyer’s journey is critical to effective marketing. 

  • Customer Buying Process -

    A customer buying process is a series of steps that a company employs when it is making decisions about and following through with making a purchase.  It always starts with a company deciding to change what they are currently doing or the way they are currently operating, and then follows a number of steps that include product research, demos, , vendor selection, negotiation, etc. It is important to understand that a Customer Buying Process is not the same as a Sales Process.  The Customer Buying Process is the process the Customer is undertaking while the Sales Process is the process the Salesperson is undertaking. For sales success a sales organization should align their sales process with the customer’s buying process. 

  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV or LTV) -

    The Customer Buyer Journey is like the Customer Buying Process but includes more aspects of what the buyer is feeling, thinking and doing along the way.  While the Customer Buying Process usually depicts the specific steps that a company employs when they make a purchase decision, the Buyer’s Journey encompasses early discovery, research, and other broader aspects of the customer journey.  Understanding the Buyer’s journey is critical to effective marketing. 

  • Deal Flow -

    The rate at which sales teams or individual reps obtain new leads and sales opportunities.  (See also: MQL and SQL)

  • Decision Theory -

    Decision Theory (or Prospect Theory) is an economic principle that describes decisions between alternatives that involve risk.  It was developed by Daniel Kahneman (who was awarded the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics for his work in Prospect Theory). His work revealed an important element of behavior under risk: the phenomenon known as loss aversion. This refers to the tendency for people strongly to prefer avoiding losses than acquiring gains.  This is an important sales concept because it states that people are more concerned with loss than they are gains.

  • Demo -

    Short for demonstration this is commonly the first step in a sales process for a software or product offering.  A sales demo is the process of demonstrating a product or service to a prospective client. It is often called a sales demo is because its purpose is to create a sale. A good sales demo will focus specifically on the needs of the client and how the product or service addresses those needs. 

  • DM (Decision Maker) -

    The decision maker is the person who ultimately approves a sale or purchase.  This is not necessarily the person who pretends to be calling the shots, which is often a gatekeeper or influencer. 

  • DNQ -

    This is the list of specific companies that are already engaged by a sales rep or a partner, and thus, can’t be touch be prospecting efforts. This list typically includes currently engaged sales opportunities, existing customers, and channel partner registered or reserved accounts.

  • Draw -

    An advance against a sales rep’s future earnings.  Sales organizations often offer draws to make sure their salespeople are sufficiently compensated when they are getting started.  After receiving a draw, a sales rep’s commissions are used to repay the advance; once it is fully repaid, a rep can start earning commissions. (See also: zeroed out) Draws can be recoverable or non-recoverable. 

  • Emotional Sale -

    A selling method that attempts to appeal to a buyer’s emotions, either by 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. (Sell also: Intellectual sale)

  • FAB -

    An acronym for “features, advantage, and benefits.” Sales reps use this three-part structure to communicate the value of their product and/or service, by defining its characteristics (features), the positive attributes of those features (advantages), and how they produce would enhance the customer’s life or reduce pain points (benefits).  The mistake many salespeople make is not realizing that customers don’t perceive features and advantages as benefits if they are not directly connected to a pain or challenge the customer acknowledges. 

  • Funnel -

    There are a lot of wildly different definitions for a sales funnel or just funnel. Some describe it as the sales process your prospects go through to become a customer. Other definitions include a marketing process to create prospects. It can also be used interchangeably with Sales Pipeline to describe the prospects you are currently engaged with (i.e., the size of your funnel).  The Funnel metaphor is used based on the premise that you need more prospects in the top of your funnel (the start of your sales process), a number that will be whittled down as they move through the process to ultimately becoming a customer.  The metaphor is misleading, in that prospects never move through a sales process as easily as liquid through a funnel.  Regardless, most salespeople lack from sufficient new prospects entering their sales funnel.  Proper Sales Funnel management tracks quantity, quality, and velocity of activity into and through the funnel.

  • Gatekeeper -

    A  gatekeeper is someone who limits access to the decision maker. For instance, a gatekeeper may be a personal assistant who relays information back to their boss. Gatekeepers are responsible for filtering out unimportant distractions, which means you must prove your value to them first.

  • GDPR -

    The General Data Protection Regulation (EU) is a EU regulation on data protection and privacy in the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). It also addresses the transfer of personal data outside the EU and EEA areas. The GDPR’s primary aim is to enhance individuals’ control and rights over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business. Superseding the Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC, the regulation contains provisions and requirements related to the processing of personal data of individuals (formally called data subjects in the GDPR) who are located in the EEA, and applies to any enterprise—regardless of its location and the data subjects’ citizenship or residence—that is processing the personal information of individuals inside the EEA. The GDPR was adopted on 14 April 2016 and became enforceable beginning 25 May 2018. 

  • Glossary of Lead Generation Terms -
  • Ideal Customer Profile -

    This is a description of your ideal customer… the type of company/employee that would benefit the most from your product and would likely lead to the quickest, easiest sales cycle. Their pain points match your solution, they have the budget, and they’re reachable.

  • Implication Question -

    Implication questions come from the SPIN selling methodology. As the people behind SPIN found in their research, successful salespeople, once they’ve uncovered problems, don’t just dive in with a solution, instead they ask Implication Questions. Implication questions create the opportunity for a prospect to expand on their problem or pain and expose more about the customers perception of issue and the cost the problem is inflicting on their business. A customer’s ability to articulate the implications of a specific problem speaks volumes as to how motivated they are to address the issue and thus if they are “in motion” to buy.  

  • Influencer -

    The complexity of most business organizational structures today leads to most B2B buying decisions to evolve a wide cast of characters. While multiple stakeholders sit on the average B2B buying committee, it’s helpful to define their parts in the overall process. The types of roles and influence will vary depending on industry and size of the prospect’s company, but generally research shows that there are typically 3 to 5 groups inside a company that influence a buy decision including IT, finance, and HR.  Any individual within any of these groups are a potential “Influencer” in purchase decision and thus a factor in any sales opportunity. 

  • Intellectual Sale -

    As opposed to an emotional sale, an intellectual sale 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.” 

  • Land and Expand -

    “Landing” a sale refers to the initial close when you bring on a new customer for the first time. “Expanding” means generating more revenue from the account by upselling or broadening the scope of the service you are providing.  Sales reps need to land and expand in order to generate the most revenue from a given prospect.

  • Lead -

    This one is complicated in that not all leads are created equal.  Let’s start with a simple look at three different kinds of leads: Cold, Warm and Hot. 

    Cold lead – A predetermined criteria (See Also: Ideal Customer Profile) has defined that a company or person is a potentially good fit for your product or service but the prospect (See Also: Suspect) has not yet engaged with you. Third-party lead list providers can provide these targets and contacts for you. A cold lead is hard to convert. However, if you market the right way, you may capture their attention and turn them into a warm or even hot lead.

    Warm lead  Factors such as showing interest in your product or service creates a warm B2B sales lead. This can be through a contact form, downloading content, engaging via a webinar or conference, or repeated visits to your website. These actions point to a prospect that may be in the market for the product or service you offer.  This type of lead is typically determined by a scoring system set up within your marketing automation platform (i.e. HubSpot, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, etc.) 

    Hot lead –  (See Also: B2B Sales Qualified Lead or SQL). Is a business that has been actively engaged and is showing a strong intent to make a buy decision and is thus a candidate for your product or service. Targeting hot leads over cold leads is a strong recommendation in the B2N marketing world as you will drive the highest return on your sales and marketing investment.  

  • Marketing Automation -

    Is a software platform designed for marketing departments to automate marketing efforts (such as email, social media, website landing pages, etc.) and repetitive tasks. Leading marketing automation platforms include: HubSpot, Marketo, and Pardot.

  • Mirroring -

    Is a tactic for building rapport with a prospect by adopting their body language or speech patterns. Subtlety is key here. Do it correctly and you will establish a meaningful connection with a prospect, overdo it and you will come off ingenuine or even creepy. 

  • Month End -

    To most people, Month end is simply that – the end of the month. But for salespeople month end is so much more. The end of the month is the cutoff to get in new business sold in the month to be counted against the month’s quota. It is the mad dash to make a number and can include all kinds of last-minute incentives and gimmicks designed to get the prospect to sign an agreement.  All to close out the month and start again.  Month end is often followed by the sales management phrase “… what have you done for me lately.”  

  • MQLs -

    MQLs or Marketing Qualified Leads, refer to prospects that has demonstrated enough interest or engagement, usually via online interaction, to be identified as a potential customer by the marketing department.  For example, a MQL might be a person who downloads a whitepaper from your website or has visited your booth at a tradeshow.   MQLs are commonly passed along to the sales team as qualified leads.  Sales teams, on the other hand, typically find that less than 30% of these “so called” leads are actually real opportunities.

  • Need-Payoff -

    Need payoff questions represent the “N” in the SPIN selling methodology. They are designed encourage the prospect to articulate the benefits of solving their problem or pain. The research behind the SPIN book found that successful reps in large sales engagements spend the most time on the investigating selling stage and handle it differently from the traditional product-feature-benefit approach.  Successful reps focus on exploring customer’s views about the implications of problem areas on their business and how their business would benefit if these problems were solved.  The Need-Payoff questions is a structure question that encourage the customer to articulate what that future state would look like. While implication questions emphasize the magnitude of the problem, need payoff questions in SPIN selling emphasize the value of your solution.

  • No Response -

    A typical lead generation effort entails a multi-touch cadence that includes multiple attempts to engage a prospect through email, phone calls, voicemails and social outreach.  When a cadence is completed with no successful connections with the target contact it is considered a “no-response.”  It is not uncommon that that more than half of the targets put into a cadence end with a no-response outcome. 

  • NSAs -

    Non-sales-related activities are things that sales reps spend time on that don’t directly lead to sales. This can include administrative task, meetings, updating the CRM, paperwork, personal calls, or surfing the Internet. Whenever a sales rep isn’t prospecting, qualifying, setting up presentations and appointments, or closing, he/she is probably engaged in an NSA. Studies find that most salespeople spend less than 60% of their time on actual selling activities.

  • Nurturing -

    Nurturing is the process of building relationships with prospects, with the goal of earning their business once they are ready. It’s not about pushing a sales agenda, but rather engaging in a customer-centric approach and focused on what the prospect needs to achieve their goals and overcome their challenges. What makes lead nurturing so essential to a sales strategy is that it builds trust and actually provides help that is relevant, valuable, and personalized to the buyer, helping them to move forward in the sales process.

  • Objection -

    A question or concern a prospect raises about your product or service that could get in the way of closing the sale. Some of the most common sales objections include price (“I can get this cheaper somewhere else”), trust (“Can you send me some information”), and timing (“I’m just too busy to deal with this right now”). Closing sales depends on overcoming ever objection that comes your way. (See Also: Objection Avoidance)

  • Objection Avoidance -

    Experienced sales professionals learn to know what objections they are likely to face and when.  With this knowledge they can engage a prospective customer and strategically ask questions that set up the objections and head them off in advance before they are brought up.  One strategy here is to acknowledge the objection up front and address it head on.  “… many businesses I work with think this approach will be too costly for them to implement, but our experience shows that we can typically deliver cost saving that recoup your initial investment within the first 6 months…”  By acknowledging the objection before the prospect gets a chance to present it up you will often gain credibility in your prospects eye and take a step towards being perceived as a trusted advisor. 

  • Open-ended Question -

    Open ending questions are a form of question that can’t be answered with simple single word answers but is designed to force the recipient of the question to pause, think and reflect before they answer.  Open ended questions typically begin with the following words: why, how, what, describe, tell me about, or what do you think about. Answers usually include personal feelings, opinions, and other ideas the prospects have to offer. Open-ended questions do more than just generate multiple word answers. These questions create an opportunity for a prospect to think, express, question, and formulate informative responses.

  • PACT (Pain, Authority, Consequence, Target) -

    With the advent of new sales methodologies such as The Challenger Sale, many have come to regard BANT as outdated. Once a prospect has budget for a project the opportunity to initiate the sales journey has been missed.  Thus, PACT is an alternative lead definition method.  The PACT acronym is defined as follows: 

    1. Pain – Pressing business issue identified and acknowledge. 
    2. Authority – There are likely multiple decision makers. Not necessarily who will sign on the dotted line (although good to know) but who can make it happen. 
    3. Consequence – Companies live with pain all the time. The key is to identify the implication of not acting.  A company not in motion is much harder to move that one who has realized the consequences of not acting. 
    4. Target Profile – Confirm fit and identifying red flags.  Are there technical, cultural, or internal political issues that will kill the deal?
  • Pain Points -

    Pain or pain points are specific problems or challenges faced by current or prospective customers in the current business environment. Just because a prospect is experiencing pain that your product or service can solve does not mean they will buy.  Companies live with unaddressed pain every day.  It isn’t until they company perceives solving this pain a strategic priority, that they are likely to move forward into a buying process.  Helping the company get to this change mode is often the responsibility of a Sales Development Rep (SDR). 

  • Persona -

    A persona is a profile of a person that reflects the profile of a person you intend to sell to. Personas are made using real-life customer research to create profiles of specific, individual customers that represent a key audience segment. Typically, you will need to create more than one persona to align with the different types of buyers you will be selling to.

  • Pipeline Velocity -

    Pipeline velocity is the speed by which qualified leads move through a sales pipeline. The true calculation of pipeline velocity is a heavily debated topic.

  • Plan -

    In a sales context, plan is short for Sales Plan is a business plan that features the development of a company’s sales activity, targets and strategy within a particular time frame.  The Sales Plan is the hub around which the entire operations of the company revolve. A sales plan is a strategic plan that specifies sales goals, tactics, challenges, target market and steps a company will take to execute their sales plan. Once a year is underway, the term Plan tends to be short for what the company’s budget or quota.

  • PPC -

    PPC stands for pay-per-click, an approach to internet marketing in which advertisers pay a fee each time one of their ads is clicked. Essentially, it’s a way of buying visits to your site, rather than attempting to “earn” those visits via organic approaches such as SEO (Search Engine Optimization). 

  • Pre-call Plan -

    A pre-call plan is an important preparatory step, too often skipped by salespeople.  A pre-call plan is a plan salespeople put together in preparation for a sales call.  It can be a first meeting, a discovery meeting, or a closing meeting.  The point is to go into the call with a plan.  The plan should outline objectives for the call, potential questions to ask, information to share and potential next steps to establish at the end of the call. Top performing salespeople go into every meeting with a plan.

  • Predictable Revenue -

    Is a sales methodology made famous by the book by the same name (“Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into A Sales Machine With The $100 Million Best Practices Of Salesforce.com”) written by Aaron Ross, an early sales leader with Salesforce.com.  Aaron Ross is often referred to as the “World’s foremost experts on outbound sales development” and his system has been adopted by thousands of companies worldwide. 

  • President's Club -

    Commonly the pinnacle of sales achievement, President’s Club (or Pro-Club), is an annual tradition that recognizes top sales performers and typically includes trips to faraway lands, awards, and general debauchery. Many a sales career has been advanced or squandered at Pro-Club. 

  • Prospect -

    A prospect is a potential client for your product or service.  A company or person who is a likely candidate to purchase your product or service but hasn’t done so yet. 

  • Prospecting -

    Prospecting is typically the beginning of the sales process and refers to the activities performed by salespeople or sales development representatives (SDRs) to identify potential customers, engage them in a sales conversation and qualify them as a prospect. Artificial intelligence (AI)-based solutions are increasingly used in this process to offer better prospecting capabilities with intelligent, data-driven customer insights. Once the prospect is qualified the salesperson or SDR works to move the prospect into their sales process.

  • Puppy Dog Close -

    This denotes the strategy of allowing customers to try out a product with no obligation while they make their decision. The idea is, an uncommitted buyer will fall in love with the product and won’t want to let it go—just like person interested in buying a puppy wouldn’t be able to say “no” after taking one home for a few days.

  • Retargeting -

    Retargeting, also known as remarketing, is a form of online advertising that is used to help a company keep their brand in front of a web user after they have left the company’s website. For most websites, only 2% of web traffic takes some kind of action on the first visit. Retargeting, through the use of Cookies, is a tool that allows a company to remain visible to this firs time website visitor by allowing the company to place ads on subsequent websites the visitor visits.  

  • ROI -

    Return on investment (ROI) is a performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency or profitability of an investment or purchase, or compare the efficiency of a number of different investments or purchases. ROI tries to directly measure the amount of return on a particular investment, relative to the investment’s cost.  To calculate ROI, the benefit (or return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment. The result is expressed as a percentage or a ratio. For purposes of calculating ROI on a sales or marketing investment, the “return” should be the resulting Gross Margin generated as a result of the investment, not the revenue. 

  • SAL (Sales Accepted Lead) -

    Some organizations add a step in the process to define the transition of a Marketing Qualified Lead into a Sales Qualified Lead which signifies that Sales has “accepted” the lead handoff from Marketing but hasn’t yet confirmed that the lead is “Qualified” from the Sales teams perspective.   Different organizations define these various phases differently.  Some use MQL > SQL > SAL while others swap the SAL and SQL so it looks like this MQL > SAL > SQL.  Either way the concept is the same.

  • Sales Funnel -

    There are a lot of wildly different defections for a sales funnel. Some describe it as the sales process your prospects go through to become a customer.  Other definitions include a marketing process to create prospects. It can also be used interchangeably with Sales Pipeline to describe the prospects you are currently engaged with (i.e. the size of your funnel).  The Funnel metaphor is used based on the premise that you need more prospects in the top of your funnel (the start of your sales process), a number that will be whittled down as they move through the process to ultimately becoming a customer.  The metaphor is misleading, in that prospects never move through a sales process as easily as liquid through a funnel.  Regardless, most salespeople lack from sufficient new prospects entering their sales funnel.  Proper Sales Funnel management tracks quantity, quality and velocity of activity into and through the funnel. 

  • Sales Methodology -

    A sales methodology is a framework that outlines how your sellers approach each sales engagement and phase of the sales process. While a sales process maps out a set of techniques or sequence of stages required for success, a sales methodology also introduces discipline through a system of principles and best practices that translate into seller actions.  There are a lot of famous sales methodologies including: SPIN Selling, Strategic Selling, the Challenger Sale, Consultative Selling, Customer-Centric Selling, the Sandler Selling System, Solution Selling, just to name a few. 

  • Sales Metrics -

    Sales metrics or sales performance metrics key data points that represent individual, team or organizational sales or lead generation performance. Sales metrics are used to measure progress toward goals, adjust targets, drive incentives, identify weaknesses, and change fundamental sales methods and strategies to adapt to growth needs or market dynamics.

  • Sales Pipeline -

    A sales pipeline is a set of stages that a prospect moves through as they progress from a “prospect” to a customer.  Once each pipeline stage is completed, the prospect is advanced to the next stage.  

  • Sales Prevention Department -

    A term of non-affection used to commonly describe your company’s legal department or sales administration. Whether it’s multiple rounds of back-and-forth on contracts or immovability on service level agreements, liability protections, or other legal issues, they often stand in the way of deals getting done which can ruin a sales rep’s day. 

  • Sales Process -

    A sales process is a series of steps a salesperson goes through to guide a prospective buyer towards a purchase.  The problem with most sales processes is that they are designed from the customer’s perspective and not the buyers. More than likely, your prospect doesn’t care about your sales process. To be meaningful and effective a properly designed sales process should be designed with the customer’s buying process in mind. Align how you sell with how your customer wants to buy and you are more likely to find success. See Customer Buying Process.

  • Sales Quota -

    A sales quota is the performance or production expectation that sellers must achieve during a set time period to earn their target variable incentive compensation (VIC). Quotas are also called goals, plans, targets, nuts, etc. and can increase or decrease the seller’s motivation depending on how realistic the salesperson perceives the target to be. All too often, companies over-assign quota to ensure they achieve topline revenue targets but in doing so, demotivate sales teams which often leads to chasing off top performers.  A lot of work goes into proper quote planning. 

  • Sandbagging -

    Top sales performers are commonly accused of sandbagging – delaying closing active deals when they are close to hitting their quota for the month, so they can more easily hit their number in the subsequent month.  This practice is especially common when compensation plans are capped. 

  • Sandler -

    Sandler is a sales training methodology developed by David Sandler in the 1960s.  In 1966, David was in outside sales and had gone on 87 calls and gotten 87 consecutive noes. He was fed up with the traditional enthusiastic presentations and high-pressure closing tactics. They didn’t feel right, and they certainly didn’t work. David Sandler wanted to take control of the sales call, his results, and ultimately, his life. The resulting Sandler Selling System has become one a popular sales methodology and is delivered by one of the largest training networks world-wide. The Sandler Selling System focuses on three key areas: Building and sustaining the relationship, Qualifying the opportunity, and Closing the sale.

  • Script -

    A Sales Script or Cold Calling Script is a written transcript of what you want your salespeople to say.  The problem is good salespeople don’t work from scripts because they know that they don’t work.  If your sales team is using a script, they are not customizing their messaging to what your prospect cares about.  If a salesperson is depending on a script, they are treating all prospects exactly alike.   See instead Talk Tracks and Call Flows.  Scrips do work for Voicemails and Emails. 

  • SDR -

    Sales Development Representative (or BDR, Business Development Representative) is typically responsible for outbound prospecting.  They proactively engage new potential clients who might be interested in the products/services a company sells and qualifies leads and work to develop opportunities into qualified leads. (See Also: BDR, BQL and SQL)

  • Selling ROI -

    In many selling opportunities today your biggest competitor is not another company bidding on the same project. It’s the status quo. That’s why selling ROI is so important. A Sales Benchmark Index study found that 58% of sales opportunities end with no decision or a decision to do nothing. Why? Because the buyer does not see the value in making a change. 

    Selling ROI is the answer. But it is also hard. You must know your products and pricing inside out and you really have to know your customer. That requires a lot of work, a lot more than showing a customer a price sheet or a slide deck. 

    Selling ROI is the answer. But it is also hard. You must know your products and pricing inside out and you really have to know your customer. That requires a lot of work, a lot more than showing a customer a price sheet or a slide deck. 

    Your customers will pay more (and act sooner) if you can demonstrate a powerful ROI story for you solution because they can quantify the value. If you can show them how much money they can save or how much revenue they can generate, they’ll understand the ROI and they will be more likely to buy. 

  • SEO -

    SEO stands for  Search Engine Optimization, which is the practice of modifying your website and its relevance to the web to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.

  • Serviceable Addressable Market (SAM) -

    Due to limitations of your business and industry – geographical, budget, legal, etc. – it’s not reasonable to expect to sell to everyone in your Total Addressable Market (TAM). Your SAM is the segment of your TAM that is within reach.

  • Serviceable Obtainable Market (SOM) -

    This is the portion of your SAM that you can realistically capture and will be your primary targets. (See Also: Targeted Account List or TAL).

  • Side Selling -

    Selling a complementary product or service to a prospect who is using a competitor for your main product. 

  • Slamming a Lead -

    This describes when a SDR or BDR presses a prospect into accepting a meeting without the prospect being truly qualified. This situation happens frequently when sales development organizations are improperly managed and/or incented.  This is also a common practice by organizations focused on “Appointment Setting.” 

  • Smile and Dial -

    Cold calling with a cheerful, positive tone of voice—and yes, a smile. Smiling communicates warmth and trustworthiness over the phone, which makes the prospect less likely to hang up on you. Even if people can’t see your smile, they can hear it. This is a sales’ best practice!

  • Social Selling -

    Social selling is the act of leveraging your social network to find and engage prospects.  Like other forms of selling, it is about building a trusted relationship, providing information, and ultimately engaging prospects to begin a discussion. This sales approach can be a successful means of lead generation and sales prospecting that reduces the need for cold calling. But like other forms of selling there are best practices that are effective and abusive methods that are unlikely to be successful. 

  • Spamming -

    Spamming is the use of messaging systems to send multiple unsolicited messages (spam) to large numbers of recipients for the purpose of promoting a product or service for any prohibited purpose (especially the fraudulent purpose of phishing), or simply sending the same message over and over to the same user.  While the mostly widely recognized form of spam is email, the term can apply to other forms of communication abuses including instant messaging, voice messaging, webforms, etc. 

  • SPIFF -

    The term spiff can stand for a few different things, but they’re often all related to sales incentives. The original term is an abbreviation of “Sales Performance Incentive Funding Formula,” but today it is more commonly abbreviated as SPIF, or “Sales Performance Incentive Fund.”  Regardless of the translation it refers to some form of sales incentive opportunity. 

  • SPIN Selling -

    SPIN Selling is one of the most well-known — not to mention oldest — selling systems. SPIN gives sales reps a research-backed framework for working and closing complex deals with extended sales processes.  Based on 12 years of research and 35,000 sales calls, SPIN selling is a sales strategy that comes from Neil Rackham’s 1988 classic book, SPIN Selling.  In his book, Rackham argues that to win large consultative deals, salespeople must abandon traditional sales techniques in order to build value as a trusted advisor.

  • SQL (Sales Qualified Lead) -

    A SQL is typically the next step a lead achieves from a MQL (or Marketing Qualified Lead).  This designation usually denotes that a salesperson has engaged with the prospect and confirmed there is a business opportunity.  Given most MQLs are generated based on digital interaction, less that 25% of MQLs typically make it to the SQL classification.  Some organizations distinguish leads generated by SDRs or BDRs differently than leads that have been confirmed or accepted by sales.  In these cases, the progressions follow one of these paths:  MQL > BQL > SQL or BQL > SQL.  Some organizations consider leads qualified by Sales or Business Development teams as Sales Qualified, the SDR/BDR leads are SQLs.  Some organizations insert a designation that signifies sales acceptance of a SQL.  (See Also: SAL) 

  • Suspect -

    A term to describe a company or person that is believed to be a potential prospect.  The term Suspect is used when very little is known about the potential target and before the target is qualified. 

  • Talk Track -

    A Talk Track is not a script, but rather a tool or guide to help with a sales conversation. It likely includes messaging themes, questions and key stats and insights on topics to share with a prospective customer. Often, Talk Tracks include check list to help keep track that a sales conversation covers key areas of interest and potential business challenges. 

  • Target Account List -

    While the ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) is hypothetical, a Target Account List includes the actual, real companies and contact information a salesperson or marketing effort intends to engage.

  • Territory (Sales Territory) -

    A sales territory is typically defined as a geographical area or a particular group of customers and prospects, which is assigned to an individual Salesperson creating their sales territory. Sales territory is not necessarily a geographical area, but it also can be a specific list of customers, a defined set of buildings, a vertical business sector, or any other logical grouping of companies.

  • Time Kills all Deals -

    Simply put, a sale is less likely to happen as more time passes—so the quicker you can knock down objections and move prospects through your funnel, the better. Remember: If a prospect says, “let me think about it,” it’s because they haven’t been completely convinced they need to change what they are doing today, and you need to increase your efforts before they slip away for good.

  • Tire-kicker -

    A prospect who has no intention or ability to buy.  With proper attention, seasoned sales reps can identify the red flags: they don’t have a budget, the purchase is not within their authority, or their timeline is far into the future.  Even if they are genuinely interested in your product or service, tire-kickers are timewasters. (See Also; MQLs)

  • TOFU (Top of the Funnel) -

    The start of the buying process. Often attracted by awareness-stage website content or initial engagement with a SDR/BDR, top of the funnel leads have shown a general interest in your product (or exploring changing what they are currently doing), or are looking for more information on the solutions you provide. TOFU leads need to be qualified and nurtured so they can start moving through the funnel.  

  • Total Addressable Market (TAM) -

    the total market opportunity for a product or service. It’s the most amount of revenue a business can possibly generate by selling their product or service to every possible customer within a specific market. Unless there’s a monopoly, it’s highly unlikely you will achieve 100% of your TAM.  Developing your TAM for a lead generation or ABM program ultimately requires identifying all of the potential companies that could potentially buy your product or service. 

  • Unconsidered Needs -

    Problems, challenges, or shortcomings that your prospect doesn’t yet know about, or doesn’t fully understand but are holding them back from moving forward with a new strategic buying initiative.  They are, by definition, unconsidered, and thus this lack of understanding may keep a prospect from moving forward down a buyer journey.  It is also important to note, that you won’t uncover Unconsidered Needs through voice of the customer research. 

  • Upselling -

    Making a sale more profitable by convincing a customer to purchase a more expensive product that the one they were initially interested in buying or selling additional services or complementary products to go along with the initial product.  This is most effectively accomplished by discovering “unconsidered needs” that you can address. Sales reps can turn and an average sale into an outstanding one by upselling and often deliver a better solution to the customer in the process. (See Also: Unconsidered Needs) 

  • Whale -

    A prospect that has the potential to bring tremendous sales revenue to an organization. Like Moby Dick, whales are big, elusive, and very rare—and sales teams pull out all the stops to land one. 

  • Zeroed Out -

    When a sales rep earns enough commission to make their draw balance equal to zero, they have zeroed out their account and can start earning commissions again. 

Hopefully this extensive lead generation glossary of terms has included the definitions of common phrases that you help you better understand all the things that we talk about every day. If you have heard other terms that don’t appear on our list, please let us know. It’s likely we know the terms, but haven’t yet include them on our lead generation glossary of terms.

Growth Orbit Insights


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Many sales leaders struggle to answer why sales development programs fail. You may have great salespeople. They may always hit their numbers. But, without a structured sales process, you run the risk of watching good leads go to waste.

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Many sales leaders struggle to answer why sales development programs fail. Bad market data will kill a program before it has a chance to succeed. Don’t let that be the reason for failure. Follow this advice to develop good market data.