The sales industry if full of its 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?
This is exactly why we created this sales glossary of sales terms and types of sales, so you can easily understand the conversation at your next sales meeting. Enjoy our ultimate encyclopedia of sales terms, and make sure also to read our list of different sales roles/positions.
Common Sales Terms
Here’s our list of commonly used sales terms and the definitions of each. Please note, oftentimes, there are multiple definitions for the same term.
Table of contents
- Common Sales Terms
- Sales Funnel
- Sales Cycle
- Long Sales Cycle
- Sales Pipeline
- Sales Roadmap
- Buyer’s Journey
- Unique Selling Proposition (USP)
- Sales Lead
- High Touch (Touchpoints)
- Sales Tech Stack
- Decision maker
- Discovery Call
- Forecasting – In Sales Terms
- Pain Point
- Incremental Commitment
- Trial Close
- Hard Close
- Assumptive Close
- Sales Presentation
- Sales Pitch
- Proof Device
- Asynchronous Sales Communication
- Features vs Benefits
- Nurturing a Lead/ Lead Nurturing
- Inside Sales
- Sales Cadence
- Demand Generation
- Sales Deck
- Different Types of Sales
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’ is defined as how long it takes to go from a new lead to a closed sale.
Long Sales Cycle
A 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.
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.
A Sales Roadmap is essentially a sales plan, your exact route of how you’ll get from start to finish of the sales process—primarily used in a visual format to map out strategies and incentivize sales teams to stay on target for achieving specific milestones. Sales Roadmaps are the “Bigger Picture” that helps your sales team to understand your vision.
The buyer’s journey is the exact process or incremental stages that buyers go through to become aware of, consider, evaluate, and decide to purchase a new product or service. The Buyer’s Journey usually consists of an overall three-step process: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. First, the buyer realizes they have an issue, they then define their problem and conduct research to resolve it. Finally, the buyer chooses a solution – which is hopefully yours!
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.
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 salesperson might receive many leads/names of people to contact.
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.
A sales opportunity is a qualified prospect with a high probability of becoming a customer. Not only are they a good fit for what you’re selling, but they actively have a pain point that your product or service can solve. As such, they’re genuinely interested in your solution.
High Touch (Touchpoints)
The sales term ‘high-touch refers to the process of involving personal attention and service in the sales process.
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 is in print.
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.
A gatekeeper is a sales term that is defined as a person who solicits information from a salesperson that is not a key part of the decision making process. The salesperson’s goal is often to ‘get past the gatekeeper‘ and to reach the decision-maker.
A decision-maker is a key person that has the authority to decide whether to go ahead with a project or sale.
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.
A pain 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 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 the potential to become active again.
Incremental commitment is the sales term for getting prospects to agree to do something with you in the present moment with the intent to scale upon the size of these commitments progressively.
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’
A trial close is a soft indirect approach to check the customer’s readiness to buy your products/services before the salesperson straight out asks for the sale. Trial closes are a high value and low-risk attempt to close a sale.
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?’
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 is an attempt to sell related, complementary or supplementary products or services to an existing customer based on their interest or needs.
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.
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.
A sales pitch is a versatile tool for piquing a prospective buyer’s curiosity by conveying the value of a solution and are regarded as the shorter and less formal version of a sales presentation. Moreover, a sales pitch aims to get the buyer’s attention and convince them to learn more about how a salesperson’s solution can help solve their most painful challenges. Sales pitches can occur anywhere, from outbound cold calls to follow-up emails or even just in-person activities.
Elevator Sales Pitch
An elevator pitch is a compressed type of sales presentation where a salesperson has to explain the nature, the benefits and the solution their business offers in under 60 seconds or less – hence the name.
An objection refers to an expression, reason or concern that prospects have that hinders the completion of the purchase. Read our ultimate guide to handling objections to learn more.
Proof devices are specific pieces of evidence that support your claims about how great your product or service is. Proof devices can be anything from a testimonial from a current or past customer, case studies, samples, doing a demonstration or product models.
Here are some examples of proof devices to plan to incorporate into your sales presentation:
- Awards you’ve won
- List of clients
- Photos of the successful implementation of your product
- Case studies
- Models or samples of your product
- Product demonstrations
- Articles in trade magazines
- Consumer reports
- Product specification sheets
Asynchronous Sales Communication
In contrast to synchronous communications, asynchronous communications do not occur at the same time. Therefore, async is a type of “on-demand communication” that allows the recipient to choose the best time to interact with the content. As such, async communication is messages in the format of audio, voicemail, text, or video.
The sales and marketing process is complex, and because there is a ton going on, asynchronicity is becoming increasingly essential to the sales process, particularly in technology and software sales.
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/ Lead Nurturing
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.
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.
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 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.
A sales leaderboard is a motivational performance tool used to increase your sales teams’ quality, encourage transparency, and, above all, support employee engagement. You can use either a pre-made static template or use sales leaderboard software to give a more interactive and asynchronous way of working.
A sales cadence is a series of scheduled touchpoints that connect with prospects to convert them later in the sales cycle. The sales cadence starts with the first point of contact; then, sales reps usually follow up with a series of interactions such as phone calls, emails, or social messages until the sales prospect has converted into a paying customer.
Demand generation is a marketing process of creating awareness and demand for your offering. It’s a method businesses use to help prospects identify a problem they are having and in a way that suggests that they can help solve it. Overall, the overarching idea is that it expands your audience, generates excitement and drives traffic to transform prospects interest into tangible actions. Without a demand generation strategy, sales teams struggle to have the inbound leads necessary to generate the required sales numbers. To use a fishing analogy to illustrate demand gen, think of it as bait that you’re throwing in the water; the goal is to attract as many fish as possible.
Lead generation is the process of turning suspects or prospects who have shown interest in your product or service into customers. It’s the natural progression from demand gen where you help prepare prospects by getting their attention – but lead gen is where you’ll actually convert them. To use the fishing analogy again, lead generation is like the process of using the best bait available to ensure you hook a specific and valuable fish.
Key Account Management
Key account management refers to a long-term strategy of delivering significant value over time to your “key accounts”. In other words, it is a systematic approach to managing, retaining and growing your organisation’s most valuable customers with the focus of maximising mutual value alongside achieving mutually beneficial goals.
A sales deck is a presentation in slide format (e.g. Powerpoint) that’s used as a supplementary resource during sales pitches to illustrate how a solution helps the prospect, making them more likely to buy the solution. Sales decks achieve this by presenting a sales “narrative” founded on prospects’ main pain points, challenges and desires in a compelling visual and textual manner.
Customer retention refers to a business’s ability to keep customers loyal and become repeat buyers who don’t stray to competitors. It’s the opposite approach to customer acquisition and lead generation, as it focuses on customers who have already purchased from you. It’s vital to any business’s longevity and success as it indicates whether the product, service and value are working well to please existing customers.
A sales quota refers to the financial goal (often time-bound) that an individual sales rep, sales team or even region must reach in any given specific period, usually one month or quarter. Sales quotas are set mainly by sales leaders and are measured in numerous ways, such as profit, sales or activities.
Digital Sales Room
Digital Sales Rooms (DSRs) are secure, shared online customer-facing content portals. In other words, a living, interactive resource that creates a streamlined and convenient purchasing experience. All within a secure microsite where sellers display essential sales collateral to enhance their interactions with prospects and stakeholders.
Different Types of Sales
B2B sales is quite simply, the act of businesses selling to other businesses.
B2C stands for ‘Business to Consumer.’ The term B2C sales encompass the sales of goods and services by businesses directly to individual consumers for their own personal use. These businesses can include outlets and service providers like restaurants, retail stores, or streaming platforms.
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.
Retail sales refers to the purchase of finished goods and services by consumers and businesses via a brick and mortar setting.
Complex Sales, also known as Enterprise Sales is a term to describe a long sales cycle, typically around 12 months in duration. As you can imagine, these sales are indeed complex. Involving multiple stakeholders, decision-makers and large value contracts. A key aspect of Complex Sales are Request For Proposals (RFPs), where you’ll compete against others for the same contract. Naturally, the more complex the sale, the more complex the sales process is.
Technical sales focus on technology-based or scientific products and services. Technical sales reps have a firm understanding of their companies’ technical details and, more so – the scientific principles behind them. Often they’ll demonstrate how to use the product to prospects and give detailed information about how systems work.
Outbound sales is the process of finding, contacting and engaging prospects to deliver sales pitches and make sales. A classic example is cold calling. The defining feature of outbound sales is salespeople contacting leads rather than the other way around.