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March 13, 2023

Lost in Translation

Decoding the Hilarious and Confusing World of Sales Jargon

For those just starting out in the world of sales – or have been there for a while, residing under a rock – it can be overwhelming to navigate the jargon and terminology used by sales professionals. But understanding the lingo is critical to (popularity) and effectively communicating with colleagues, prospects, and clients. To help you get up to speed, we’ve put together a list of key sales terms and their meanings. By familiarizing yourself with these words, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful salesperson… or at the very least, make it seem like you are.

17 sales terms everyone in the industry should know:

1. Closed-won

This is the holy grail of sales – the moment when a deal is closed and the customer happily purchases their solution. On the other hand, “closed-lost” is the sour note that nobody wants to hit. It’s when an opportunity fails to convert into a sale, leaving the salesperson wondering what went wrong.

2. Laydown

This is a term used to describe a sale that comes out of nowhere, seemingly by magic. You know the type – the customer almost didn’t even need a salesperson, you were just lucky enough to collect the commission.

3. Commission breath

is a not-so-nice way of referring to a salesperson who is overly eager to close a deal and earn their commission. You can practically smell the desperation emanating from them.

4. Farm

No, we’re not discussing actual agriculture here. In sales, “farming” refers to the practice of cultivating long-term relationships with customers in order to generate repeat business. It’s like tending to a crop of loyal customers, hence the farming analogy.

5. Hunting

Sellers are either hunters or farmers, hunters go out and actively look for the deal, (practice outbound selling), looking to bring in whales.

6. Gut check

This term is used to describe a moment of doubt or uncertainty that a salesperson might experience during a negotiation. It’s like when you get that queasy feeling in your stomach and you’re not sure if you’re making the right decision.

7. Hockey stick growth

This is a term used to describe a sales forecast that shows a steep upward trajectory, like the blade of a hockey stick. “Up and to the right”. It’s the kind of thing that gets executives excited and investors salivating.

8. Puppy dog close

This is a tactic used by salespeople to get a customer to commit to a purchase by offering a trial period or free demo. It’s like letting the customer take the puppy home for a weekend to see if they really want to adopt it.

9. Rainmaker

This is a term used to describe a salesperson who has a knack for bringing in big deals and generating lots of revenue. It’s like they have some kind of magical power to make it rain money.

10. Cleaning up your pipeline

No plumbers involved her. In sales, this refers to the process of filtering out unqualified leads or prospects from a sales pipeline. It’s like separating the wheat from the chaff.

11. Land and expand

This term refers to the strategy of generating revenue by both closing a deal with a new customer and then expanding that customer’s business by offering them additional products or services. The initial sale is called the “landing,” while the subsequent revenue generation is the “expanding.” Successful sales reps know how to land and expand to maximize revenue from each customer.

12. Time kills all deals

This term is a reminder that sales opportunities have a limited lifespan. The longer a deal drags on, the less likely it is to close. Sales reps must be proactive in overcoming objections and pushing prospects through the sales funnel to prevent them from slipping away. If a prospect says they need time to think, it means they haven’t been fully convinced yet, and it’s the sales rep’s job to increase their efforts before the opportunity disappears. Remember, time kills all deals, so don’t let it slip away.

13. Sandbagging

This is when a salesperson intentionally delays closing active deals once they’ve already met their quota or earned their commission for the month. This tactic is used to build up a pipeline of leads for the following month. It may sound counterintuitive, but it can be a strategic move to maintain consistent sales performance over time.

14. Gatekeeper

is used to describe the individual who controls access to the decision-maker. This person is typically a personal assistant or receptionist and is often the first hurdle a salesperson must overcome in order to make their pitch.

15. Intellectual sale

targets a prospect’s logical side and focuses on providing a practical and cost-effective solution to their problem. It’s a type of sale that is grounded in business considerations rather than an “emotional sale” which is when they just like the look of a product or go on more personal factors.

16. Commit

typically refers to a prospect or customer making a firm and definite decision to move forward with a purchase. It’s a signal that they are ready to take action and are willing to make the necessary financial or contractual commitments to move forward with the sale. A salesperson may ask a prospect to “commit” to a purchase by signing a contract or making a deposit, indicating that they are fully committed to the deal.

17. Spiff

is a short-term incentive or bonus that is offered to salespeople to motivate them to sell a particular product or service. It can take various forms, such as cash bonuses, gift cards, prizes, or vacations. The purpose of a spiff is to encourage salespeople to focus their efforts on a specific goal or product, and to create a sense of urgency and excitement around the sales process. Spiffs are often used by companies to boost sales during slow periods or to promote new products.

So there you have it, and quite honestly, the list is never-ending, so tell us…what other sales terms would you add?

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