Common Sales Vocabulary


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A common sales language must be a part of a formal sales process and methodology, and should be defined in a glossary of sales terms. Doing so crystallizes and defines the meaning of key words used throughout the sales organization and eliminates confusion within the sales organization and across the enterprise.

Although we might all speak the same language, the same words often mean different things to different people. Peter Drucker claims that 60% of all management problems result from faulty communications. Webster defines vocabulary as “a stock of words used in a language by a class or individual or in relation to a subject.” Selling, like all other professions, has a language unto itself.

The glossary of terms should include not only the meaning of basic terms like revenue, sales, orders, revenue recognition, prospect, and customer, but also the terms that are used to identify the people that buy from you. In our company, we use terms like Approver, Key Decision Maker, Recommender, Influencer, Ally, and Inside Sales Person to describe people we call on.

Establishing a common sales language will make everybody’s job much easier. For example, the use of the Funnel Phase names ensures consistency and understanding of where a deal sits in the sales cycle. When a sales person or sales manager says that a prospect is in the Proposal phase of the sales cycle, everyone in the organization knows what that means; i.e., that specific actions and activities have been performed and successfully completed.

Mike Ehrensberger
Sales Force Systems, LLC
Since 1995 Mike Ehrensberger has concentrated on sales performance and effectiveness training and tools with Sales Force Systems. Earlier, he spent 1 years with Teradata Corporation in sales management and customer support management positions.


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