Sales Terminology: 100 Abbreviations and Terms You Need to Know

Entering the world of sales and marketing is like moving to a new country: if you want to understand what’s going on, you got to learn the language. 


If all the sales jargon is quickly making you want to pull your hair out or set yourself on fire, don’t worry. Walnut’s here for you. (And so are actual walnuts, which are really good for your brain.) 


To boost your sales lingo, we created a handy terminology glossary that you can read, reference and share. Just bookmark this page and come back whenever you stumble upon a new confusing sales term.


The ultimate guide to increasing your sales vocabulary:


~ A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z ~


A

1. ABC

The ABCs of sales stand for the most important thing you should be doing: Always Be Closing. Regardless of what you’re up to, don’t forget your goal is to close those deals.

2. Account-based everything (ABE)


This B2B sales strategy gets the whole team involved in targeting specific high-value accounts. Following in the heels of account-based marketing, this approach takes it to the next level by steering the rest of your company toward the accounts as well.


3. Account-based marketing (ABM)


As opposed to marketing your product to a wide, general audience, this strategy refers to directing your marketing campaign at a specific account in order to close the deal. While this was once a novel idea, now over 80% of B2B companies use this approach.


4. Account-based selling (ABS)


This umbrella term refers to the overall strategy of identifying large, priority accounts you’d like to sell to, and allocating resources to specifically target them.


5. Account development representative (ADR)


The job of this position is to identify potential customers, qualify leads, and nurture them until they are passed to the account executive. 


6. Account executive (AE)


Your account executive’s job is to be responsible for specific customer accounts, building a relationship with them, and ultimately closing deals.


7. AIDA


An acronym for Attention/Awareness, Interest, Desire, and Action, four steps within the sales funnel. 


8. Annual contract value (ACV) 


If you sign a multi-year contract with a customer, you’ll need this metric to track the revenue from your contract per year. 


9. Annual recurring revenue (ARR)


Track the amount of your yearly subscription-based revenue with this handy metric.

10. Average selling price (ASP)


How much does this product or service usually sell for? This can refer to the average within the market in general or within your company.


B

11. B2B


Standing for “business to business,” this refers to the market of businesses that sell products or services to other businesses.


12. B2C


In contrast to B2B, this stands for “business to consumer” and refers to a business that sells directly to those who will use the product.


13. BANT


Look out for these four elements to determine whether your prospects are the real deal: 

  • Do they have the Budget to pay for your product? 
  • Does your contact have the Authority to sign the deal?
  • Do they Need what you’re selling? 
  • What’s their expected Timeline for completing this purchase?


14. Bluebird


This slang sales term refers to an exciting opportunity or sale that pops up unexpectedly. 


15. Bottom of the funnel (BoFu)


The bottom of the sales funnel is when your prospects are getting very close to completing the deal. 


16. Buyer behavior


This term refers to the driving factors behind the buyer’s purchase process, the decision to purchase, and the use of the product. These can include needs and goals, willingness to take risks, environmental factors, and more.


17. Buyer persona


Use market research and track your existing customers to narrow down the most common or ideal characteristics of your buyers. Then turn these traits into a persona to represent your target audience. This will help your marketing team direct their campaigns and your sales team to qualify leads.


18. Buying criteria


Everything your customer needs to know about your product or service before buying, for example: what it is, why it’s needed, what it costs, etc.


19. Buying intent


Determine your prospect’s intent to buy based on his or her consumption of your content, site visits, and communication. 


20. Buying process / adoption process


The process potential customers go through from learning about the product until using it. 


21. Buying signal


An explicit or subtle clue that the customer is ready to purchase.


C

22. Challenger sales model


Based on Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson’s book The Challenger Sale, this theory encourages salespeople to emulate “challengers,” one of five types of sales reps. Challengers are the ones who provide a new perspective to prospects by understanding what they want, need, and value. They also get sales done by making sure to control the process.


23. Churn rate


The dreaded churn rate refers to the percentage of customers who cancel their subscriptions or stop their business with your company. Calculate your churn rate by dividing the number of churns by your total number of customers.


24. Click-through rate (CTR)


The percentage of people who click on your call to action compared to the total number who saw it.


25. Closed opportunities


This term refers to closed-won opportunities, (the good kind) where the sales rep closes a deal with a sale, as well as to closed-lost opportunities, (the bad kind) where the deal was closed without one.


26. Closing ratio


The percentage of prospects who closed deals in comparison to your total number of leads.


27. Cold calling


Calling someone without ever having interacted with them prior. 


28. Consumer


Often used interchangeably with “buyer” the consumer actually refers specifically to the one who ultimately uses the product or service, who may or may not have been the one to purchase it. 


29. Content


Any material used to engage with potential buyers, including text, images, videos, etc.


30. Content management system (CMS)


A software that helps businesses create and edit digital content, like WordPress or Wix.


31. Conversion rate


The rate of leads who convert to buyers.


32. Cross-selling


The act of selling an additional product or service in addition to the one that was initially intended to be purchased. This can take place either at the time of the initial sale or after.


33. Customer acquisition cost (CAC)


The total cost of acquiring a new customer. You can calculate it by adding up your marketing and sales expenses and dividing it by the number of sales you closed.


34. Customer lifetime value (CLV)


The projected value a certain customer will bring to your business throughout your entire relationship.


35. Customer relationship management (CRM)


CRMs can help your business track and log all the interactions and experiences you have with your customers. They can also help you with targeted marketing, obtaining customer feedback, sales tracking, and more. 


D

36. Decision maker


When referring to sales, the decision maker is the person in the company or household who has the authority and ability to complete the purchase.


37. Demand generation


The marketing process of generating demand and hype for a product or service.


38. Discovery call


Your discovery call is the first call with a potential buyer where the seller can learn about the prospects’ needs, qualify the lead, and build rapport.


39. Drip campaign


A series of automated emails that are sent over an extended period and based on actions by the prospect in the hopes to move the lead through the marketing funnel.


E

40. Enrichment


Updating a product or service so that it is more enjoyed by the consumer. 


41. EOM, EOQ, EOY


End of month, end of quarter, and end of year.


F

42. FAB


The three aspects of your product you need to explain to the prospective customer:  

  • Features: What it does 
  • Advantages: Why those features are important
  • Benefits: How it’ll positively impact your life 


43. Feature


A specific aspect of your product that can help alleviate a pain point or fill a need.


44. Flywheel


Say goodbye to the traditional sales funnel (that was first introduced in 1898) and say hello to the flywheel sales process. This concept visualizes the sales process as being like a flywheel: a huge, constantly spinning, momentum-building wheel. The idea is that instead of just looking at your customers as the goal, you should be considering and taking advantage of the impact and influence that happy customers have on finding new customers.


45. Forecasting


The act of predicting your output and future sales based on historical data. This is helpful to make more data-driven business decisions.  



G

46. Gatekeeper


The person (think secretary or personal assistant) who stands in between you and the intended recipient, enabling or preventing the passing along of information. 


47. Go-to-market strategy


A business’s go-to-market strategy is the overall plan to create and launch a product into the market—making sure the product is useful in function and holds a competitive advantage over the competition. 


48. GPCTBA/C&I


Everything you need to analyze when qualifying your leads:

  • Goals: What is the prospect looking to accomplish?
  • Plans: What’s in the works to accomplish these goals?
  • Challenges: How can they overcome current and future obstacles?
  • Timeline: What’s the timeframe for all the above?
  • Budget: How much can they spend?
  • Authority: Who can champion the deal? Who’s your champion to close the deal?
  • Consequences: What does the prospect have to lose by not meeting the goals?
  • Implications: What can be gained by meeting them?


I

49. Inbound leads


When leads approach your brand and express interest in your product.


50. Independent software vendor


A business that builds and sells software, like Walnut.


51. Inside sales rep


A sales representative who makes sales remotely, usually through phone or email, instead of face-to-face.


K

52. Key performance indicators (KPIs)


The main measurable goals you are looking to reach that’ll indicate you are moving in the right direction. Defining a business’ KPIs is a crucial way to track progress.


L

53. Land and expand


This sales strategy refers to the process of first aiming to land a deal with a company but then working to expand the scope of the services you provide for this client and increase your revenue. 


54. Lead


Anyone who has expressed interest in your product but has not yet purchased. 


55. Lead generation


The act of acquiring leads. Businesses can generate leads by having site visitors share their contact information to request a demo, download a white paper, or subscribe to a newsletter or blog.


56. Lead nurturing


Once your business can contact the leads, you must nurture them until they are ready to buy. You can do this through emails, phone calls, sharing data, and more.


57. Lead qualification


Not all leads were made equal. To avoid spending time on tire-kickers who are not likely to buy and overlooking those who are, it’s important to qualify your leads. You can do this by using the GPCTBA/C&I framework.


58. Lead scoring


A lead qualification tactic that applies a relative score to each lead based on the perceived value that they can bring to the company.


59. Lifecycle marketing


This marketing strategy stresses the importance of not looking at the deal signing as the final step. Instead, it works to turn your prospects into customers and then into advocates for your business. 


60. Lifetime value (LTV)


A way to calculate the total projected profit your business will earn from a specific customer. 

61. LTV:CAC


This crucial metric compares the cost of acquiring a new customer, or the customer acquisition cost (CAC), to the customer’s lifetime value (LTV).


M

62. Marketing qualified lead (MQL)


The leads you determine to be more likely to purchase based on their engagement with your marketing content are called your MQLs.


63. Middle of the funnel (MoFu)


The middle stage of the sales funnel. At this point, your leads are usually researching a solution for their pain points and needs. Your goal in this stage is to nurture your leads to become more comfortable and ready to buy. 


64. Monthly recurring revenue (MRR)


This crucial metric for subscription-based companies helps them calculate the growth of their income from month to month. 


65. Multi-threading


When selling a product or SaaS to a larger company, you’ll likely need to speak to several individuals and decision-makers within the organization. This type of deal is referred to as multi-threading.


N

66. Net promoter score (NPS)


This metric tracks your customers’ overall satisfaction by ranking by 1-10 their willingness to promote your product or service to another customer. You can learn this by providing surveys.



O

67. Objection


A sales objection is when the prospect expresses reservations or challenges the need for your product. Learning about what is leading to the objection and how you can work around it is a huge part of making successful sales. 


68. Onboarding


The onboarding process is the step immediately after making the sale: getting your customer acquainted with your product or service.


69. Outbound sales


A sales process where the representative makes initial contact with the prospective customer, usually through cold calls, emails, or social media.


P

70. Pain point


This is the area that the prospect is struggling with and looking to find a solution for. The marketing and sales teams should be focusing on finding the pain points among potential customers to explain how your product can provide solutions. 


71. Performance plan


The plan given to an underperforming sales rep in order to increase output. Having a performance plan helps sales teams meet specific goals and lets team leads provide feedback and advice. This is also sometimes referred to as a “Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).”


72. Point of contact


The contact within the company you’re looking to sell to is your point of contact. He or she is usually an active part of the decision-making and helps move the process along.


73. Positioning statement


A sales rep will use positioning statements at the beginning of a sales call to get the conversation started and steer the topic toward the prospect’s pain points. The intent of this is to eventually explain how your product can provide solutions. 


74. Product qualified lead (PQL)


As opposed to an MQL or SQL, a PQL is a promising qualified lead who has actually tried out and used your product through a free trial or freemium model. 


75. Profit margin


This measures the amount of profit a company earns, after all, is said and done. You can calculate it like this: (total revenue - total expenses ) / total revenue.


76. Prospecting


The act of searching for, screening, and gathering potential leads for outreach.


77. Puppy dog close


“Puppy dog close” lets your customer use the product for free and with zero obligations until he or she undoubtedly falls in love with it and won’t want to say goodbye. (Like someone who takes home a puppy for a few days and ultimately can’t give it back.)


Q

78. Qualified lead


Any lead that expresses interest in learning more about your product or moving along the sales process while meeting specific criteria decided upon by your organization. Your criteria can depend on the prospect’s industry, size, location, and more. A lead can be qualified through the marketing team (MQL), or further down the sales pipeline by the sales team (SQL).


79. Quota


The number of sales or the amount of revenue a rep needs to make over an allotted period.



S

80. SaaS


Software as a service. Some examples of SaaS companies include Walnut, Dropbox, Hubspot, Salesforce, and many more.


81. Sales champion


Your sales champion is the person within the company you’re trying to sell to who is convinced of the need for your product or service and then argues on your behalf to the other decision-makers.


82. Sales demo


Your sales demo, or product demo, is the stage of the sales process where the sales rep showcases the product to the prospect. Whereas they were once limited experiences and prone to embarrassing mishaps, now businesses can use programs like Walnut to create foolproof interactive sales experiences.


83. Sales development representative (SDR)


Also known as a business development representative (BDR), the role of an SDR is to qualify potential leads.


84. Sales enablement


If you want sales teams to blossom, you have to provide them with water, sun, and other basics, like software, tools, and resources. This helps enable them to succeed.


85. Sales funnel


A visualization of the sales process in the shape of a funnel, your sales funnel consists of the various steps a prospect needs to take to convert. These include awareness, interest, consideration, intent, evaluation, and purchase.


86. Sales methodology


The overall philosophy, principles, and values that your team is using to generate sales. Sales teams will often be trained and motivated to use specific methodologies. Some of the most popular sales methodologies include SPIN selling, the challenger sales model, and solution selling.


87. Sales pipeline


A sales pipeline is a way to track the multi-step process of prospects who are converting into buyers. Having a clear pipeline helps sales teams track the stages of each prospect and their overall progress as a group.


88. Sales qualified lead (SQL)


Unlike the MQL, this prospect has also been qualified by the sales team and is, therefore, ready to be passed to the account executive to (hopefully) close the deal.


89. Service level agreement (SLA)


A SaaS company’s SLA usually refers to the agreed-upon technical support resources the organization will provide to its customers.


Your marketing and sales team may also have an SLA to determine each role’s expectations and desired output. The marketing SLA will usually consist of the quantity and quality of leads the team brings in while the sales SLA will dictate the frequency and effort the team puts into each lead.


90. Smarketing


When your sales and marketing team work together in sync and are so aligned they become one word.


91. Social selling


The increasingly popular process of using social media to make a sale.


92. Solution selling


This common B2B sales methodology encourages sales reps to locate the pain points of the prospect and then develop and propose solutions using your product.


93. SPIN selling


Create a customer-centric sales process by asking your potential customers questions about these four elements: 

  • Situation: What’s the prospect's current situation?
  • Problem: Do they have any specific pain points?
  • Implication: What impact do these pain points have on their business?
  • Need-payoff: How can your product provide a need?


T

94. Tire-kicker


This is an industry term to refer to those people who seem like they may be interested in buying but then never do. Try to avoid these time-wasters by making sure from the outset that the prospect has the capabilities and budget to buy your product.


95. Top of the funnel (ToFu)


The top of your sales funnel is the widest, aiming to raise awareness of your product among a broad audience of potentially interested people. 


U

96. Unique selling point/proposition (USP)


What sets your business apart? What do you have that your competition doesn’t? This is your unique selling point (USP).


97. Upselling


This sales strategy aims to get your prospects to choose a bigger product than they initially intended to buy. Think: “For just a few more dollars a month you can get all of these bonus features.”


V

98. Value proposition


A clear explanation of why your customers should want to buy your product.


W

99. Weighted sales pipeline


A sales pipeline where prospects are evaluated by how likely they are to close the deal based on where they are in the sales funnel.


100. Whale


Every sales rep would love to reel in a whale. In sales lingo, a whale refers to a prospect with a huge potential for the company. But alas, whales are rare and hard to grab.