definition of sales terms

The sales industry if full of it’s own jargon and sales terms, someone new to sales could easily get lost in a conversation about how we’ve got to shorten the sales cycle for high-ticket items by having the SDR qualify prospects better… I mean, are you even speaking English?

And that’s exactly why we created this glossary of sales terms, so you can easily understand the conversation at your next sales meeting. Enjoy our ultimate encyclopedia of sales terms.

Common Sales Terms

Here’s our list of commonly used sales terms and the definitions of each. Please note, often times there are multiple definitions for the same term.

Sales Funnel

A ‘Sales Funnel’ refers to specific activities salespeople follow in a specific order to close a new customer. A sales funnel includes stages such as ‘prospecting,’ ‘qualifying,’ ‘meeting,’ ‘needs assessment,’ ‘Benefits presented’, ‘Proposal delivered, ‘sale closed’, ‘testimonial and referral’.

Sales Cycle

‘Sales Cycle’ is defined as how long it takes to go from new lead to closed sale.

Long Sales Cycle

Long sales cycle is a selling situation where clients take months even years from when they first reach out for initial information to when a purchase is made and the order is fulfilled. Especially common in the purchase of expensive machinery or hardware for businesses and situations where customers are investing in a long-term solution for their company. 

Pipeline – In Sales Terms

A sales pipeline encompasses every stage of your sales process. An opportunity moves from stage to stage in your pipeline based on specific actions taken.

Sales pipelines provide a clear indication of how many deals salespeople are currently working on and where they are in the typical buyer’s journey.

For example a sales professional might report their manager on their sales pipeline saying that they have 10 deals in the qualifying stage and 3 in closing.

This can give an indication of how many deals are expected to close in a given week, month or year and how close a rep is to reaching their sales targets.

Sales Roadmap/Buyer’s Journey

A sales roadmap is very similar to a buyer’s journey in that it represents what it takes to go from start to end of a sale.

Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

The key selling point, consideration presented by a seller as the reason that their product or service is different from and better than that of the competition.

Sales Lead

The term sales lead refers to a person or business at the very start of the sales process who may eventually become a client. A sales person might receive many leads/names of people to contact.

Prospect

Once a sales lead is qualified and it is determined they have a need for your offering, they then become a ‘prospect’. A prospect is someone who will most likely buy a solution in the near future whether they buy it from you or not.

High Touch

The sales term ‘high-touch’ refers to the process of involving personal attention and service into the sales process. 

Presales

Presales refers to the process or checklist of activities that are normally carried out before a customer is acquired.

Presales can also refer to the role of a presales professional who handles the initial stages of a sale.

Presales can also refer to the act of selling something before it’s ready. Some examples are presales of condo units during the construction phase or book presales before the book in printed.

Sales Tech Stack

Also known as a Sales Technology Stack, a sales tech stack refers to the sales software and hardware that sales teams utilise in order to make the sales process more efficient and effective.

Gatekeeper

A gatekeeper is a sales term which is defined as a person who solicits information from a salesperson that is not a key part of the decision making process. The sales person’s goal is often to ‘get past the gatekeeper‘ and to reach the decision maker.

Decision maker

A decision maker is key person that has the authority to decide whether to go ahead with a project or sale.

Discovery Call

A discover call refers to a call where the purpose is to determine whether or not the prospect and salesperson/solution are a good fit for each other and to understand what stage of the sales process the prospect is at.

Forecasting – In Sales Terms

Forecasting is the process of utilising historical data as inputs to make informed estimates about future sales and deals. Forecasting can also be based on what’s in sales reps’ pipelines.

Pain Point

A paint point is a specific challenge that a prospect is experiencing and is actively trying to fix by investing in a new product or solution. A sales rep’s goal is often to discover the pain points of their prospects.

Outreach

Outreach refers to the act of reaching out to prospective buyers in an attempt to generate leads.

Outreach also refers to the act of proactively engaging with new prospects or past customers that have gone cold but have been assessed to have potential to become active again.

Incremental Commitment

Incremental commitment is the sales term for getting prospects to agree to doing something with you in the present moment with the intent to scale up on the size of these commitments progressively.

Closing

Closing is a sales term that refers to the final stage of making a sale, the completion of a purchase. A sale can be either ‘closed – won’ in which case your company got the sale or ‘closed – lost’ in which case either another company got the sale or the prospect decided not to go with any solution.

Read ‘5 Reasons Why You Can’t Close a Sale’

Trial Close

A trial close is a soft indirect approach to check the customer’s readiness to buy your products/services before the sales person straight out asks for the sale. Trial closes are a high value and low risk attempt to close a sale. 

Hard Close

A hard close is a direct attempt to close the sale by asking if the customer has decided to purchase your good or services. An example of a hard close is ‘would you like to proceed with this solution?’

Assumptive Close

The definition of an assumptive close is when a salesperson approaches a sale assuming that the customer has already agreed to purchase something, as a result behaves and converses with the customer in a similar manner.

Cross-Selling

Cross selling is an attempt to sell related, complementary or supplementary products or services to an existing customer based on their interest or needs.

Up-selling

Up-selling is a sales technique where a customer is invited to purchase an upgraded or premium version of what’s been purchased in an attempt to increase revenue from the customer.

Sales Presentation

A sales presentation is when a sales professional presents their solution to a prospect. This could be done in a formal boardroom meeting where the sales rep presents to a group of people or in a casual 1-to-1 conversation where there’s no formal structure when the sales rep presents their solution.

Objection

An objection refers to an expression, reason or concern that prospects have that hinders the completion of the purchase.

Features vs Benefits

Features vs Benefits is a common sales term often used in sales training. A feature refers to what something is, what something does. This is usually seen in the form of technical specifications. A benefit on the other hand is what value the feature actually present to end buyers.

The difference is that a feature simply states what a product does or has, and never addresses the real life value that customers would enjoy from using it, which is addressed by benefits.

Nurturing a Lead

The act of nurturing a lead refers to the process of growing and developing relationships with prospects throughout the sales process so that when the time is right, the lead converts efficiently into a sale.

Prospecting/Hunting

The definition of prospecting which can also be referred to as ‘hunting’ is the acting of looking for leads. This could be done through cold emails, cold calling or outreach using social media like LinkedIn to a list of potential buyers.

Inside Sales

The easiest way to think about inside sales is that people use the term to describe an approach to sales which is the opposite of outside sales. However, that definition doesn’t offer much clarity unless you know a little something about outside sales. Outside sales, require sales reps to go into the field to meet with prospects face-to-face. The people who engage in outside sales are the archetypal road warriors, crisscrossing the country, perhaps visiting the home office occasionally, but working mainly on the road. 

Qualifying

Qualifying is an assessment process to determine the true opportunity level of a prospect and the amount of subsequent effort involved in the sales process. There are many different qualifying techniques including BANT and MEDDIC.

Different Types of Sales

B2B Sales 

B2B sales is quite simply, the act of businesses selling to other businesses

High Velocity Sales

The high velocity sales model goes beyond the field or inside only sales approach and instead recommends using new technologies to increase quality leads and lower acquisition costs.

B2C Sales

B2C stands for ‘Business to Consumer.’ The term B2C sales encompasses the sales of goods and services by businesses directly to individual consumers for their own personal use. These kinds of businesses can include outlets and service providers like restaurants, retail stores, or streaming platforms

Retail Sales

Retail sales refers to the purchase of finished goods and services by consumers and businesses via a brick and mortar setting.

Author Profile

Tom Abbott
Tom Abbott is the author of 'The SOHO Solution' and 'Social Selling' and the creator of the online sales training platform SOCO Academy. Sales leaders engage Tom for his proven solutions to building high performance sales teams that exceed targets and for motivational keynotes that energise their audiences.

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