Translation guide: marketing and sales

Sales and marketing often feel like they’re speaking different languages - and sometimes they are! Translate the jargon between these departments.

Sales and marketing often feel like they’re speaking different languages - and sometimes they are! Here’s our guide to translating the jargon between the two departments.

Inbound marketing is now well accepted and most companies have some form of inbound marketing strategy whether it takes the form of blogging, eBooks, webinars, social media and more. This form of marketing has created informed, knowledgeable consumers who can research and investigate service and product offerings for themselves. Buyers today do not need the assistance of a salesperson like they did a decade ago.” (Extract from the Spitfire eBook: Inbound Sales Playbook)

Most organisations are recognising this change in buyer behaviour and are trying to adapt their businesses in order to market and sell to these more informed buyers.

If your organisation is trying to refocus the traditional roles of marketing and sales; if you’re realising it’s now vital for “marketing” activities and “sales” activities to be closely coordinated, then you may be experiencing difficulties getting your sales consultants and your marketing consultants to understand each other. Traditionally, there has been a distinct line between the roles and responsibilities of marketing and sales, with very little day-to-day interaction and support between the silos.

The new buyer also expects potential suppliers to speak with one, consistent voice, and expects everyone they deal with in an organisation to know what interactions have already occurred and what information has been exchanged.

To guide a relationship between the two departments and to assist the company’s effort to focus on the customer, this article includes the following alphabetised lists of terms:

  1. Sales terms i.e. terms traditionally used by sales consultants and sales teams
  2. Marketing terms i.e. terms traditionally used by marketing consultants and marketing teams
  3. Terms that are common to both sales and marketing


    Sales Terms




"Always Be Closing." An outdated and old fashioned sales strategy that focuses everything a sales rep does on one goal:  closing a deal. The implication is that, if a sales rep doesn't close the deal, then everything they did regarding that opportunity was a failure.

In the inbound methodology, the preferred ABCs of selling are: Always Be Connecting.


The perception of value that our product brings to our customer. This perceived value, or benefit, is created by the sales representative during the sales process. Benefits are not the same as features which just describe the product itself.


An acronym used in sales to qualify sales leads. BANT is a well known sales tool used to assist sales reps and sales managers to determine whether their prospects have the Budget, Authority, Need, and right Timeline to buy what they sell.

Budget – does the prospect have the budget for my product/service?

Authority – am I talking to the person with the buying power?

Need – does the prospect have a business need for my product/service, can a need be enhanced?

Timeline – this determines the timeframe for implementation and gives an idea of the length of the sales cycle with this particular prospect?

The BANT formula was originally developed by IBM several decades ago and should be revisited to fit into a modern and realistic sales methodology and sales cycle.

Buying signal

This is the statement from the customer that all sales reps should be listening for, and is an indication they’re ready to purchase. For example, “When can you deliver?”

Churn rate

This is a measurement of how many customers you retain and at what value. To calculate churn rate, take the number of customers you lost during a certain time frame, and divide that by the total number of customers you had at the very beginning of that time frame. (Don't include any new sales from that time frame.)

For companies relying on recurring revenue calculating churn rate is very important. It doesn’t matter what your monthly revenue is if your average customer does not stay with you long enough for you to at least break even on customer requisition costs.

Example: If you had 1000 customers at the beginning of July and lost 200 of these customers by the end of July. Then your customer churn rate will be 200/1000=0.2 i.e. 20%


Closing the sale is the ultimate reason for the sales process: obtain the purchase of the product or service by the customer. If you do everything right and don't close the sale, then you were still not successful.

Cold calling

Making calls on people, who don’t expect, didn’t ask for and may not actually need your product or service in an attempt to sell them these products or services.


The payment a sales rep gets when they successfully sell something. Commission is usually calculated as a percentage of sales revenue and commission structures may be based on number of sales, value of sales, targets reached and so on.


This is a sales technique where a sales rep offers additional products and services to customers that are linked to the primary product being sold. The aim is to enhance the benefits received by the customer. For a simple example, tennis balls go with tennis rackets, socks go with shoes etc.

Cross selling is different from up-selling. (See up-selling).

Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

Software that let companies keep track of everything they are doing to have done with their existing and potential customers. Basic CRM software lets you keep track of all the contact information for these customers. More complex CRM systems can track email, phone calls, faxes, and deals; send personalised emails; schedule appointments; and log every instance of customer service and support. Some systems also incorporate feeds from social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others. The goal is to create a system in which sales reps have a lot of information that they can quickly pull up to give them everything about a prospect or existing customer.


A physical characteristic that describes a product or service. It may explain the physical appearance of the product or the uses of the product or the attributes of the product. For example: Our credit card is small and conveniently fits into your purse or wallet. Our credit card has a budget or straight facility.


Usually the sales person needs to get to speak to the user of the product/service or the person with the buying power. The gatekeeper is the person who can prevent or grant access to this person.

For example: I want to sell my training programme to an internal Learning and Development Department in a large organisation - the person I want to speak to is the Training manager but the person I can get to when I phone or email is their P.A. The P.A. is the gatekeeper. They can be receptive or hostile.


This is an acronym that stands for: Goals, Plans, Challenges, Timeline, Budget, Authority, Negative Consequences, Positive Implications.

These are the lead qualification criteria that sales reps should use to qualify prospects -- it's a better tool than BANT to help sales reps and sales leaders to determine whether their prospects have the goals, plans, challenges, and right timeline to buy what they sell.

G = Goals: Determines the quantifiable goals your prospect wants or needs to hit. An opportunity for sales reps to establish themselves as an advisor by beginning to help prospects reset or quantify their goals.

P = Plans: Determines the prospect's current plans that they'll implement in order to achieve those goals.

C = Challenges: Determines whether the sales rep can help a prospect overcome their and their company's challenges; ones they're dealing with and ones they (or the sales rep) anticipate.

T = Timeline: Determines the time frame for implementation of their goals and plans, and when they need to eliminate their challenges.

B = Budget: Determines how much money a prospect has to spend.

A = Authority: Determines who in the organization will help champion and/or decide to make a purchase.

C = Negative Consequences: Discusses the negative things that'll happen if a prospect doesn't meet their goal.

I = Positive Implications: Discusses the positive outcomes that'll happen if a prospect meets their goal.

Read about GPCT here.


The difference between a product or services selling price and the cost of production.

Sales Qualified Lead

This is a prospect that Marketing has nurtured down the sales funnel, and when sales accepts this lead and agrees to take action in turning this lead into a customer then it is called a Sales Qualified Lead.

Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)

This is the amount of revenue a subscription-based business receives per month. Includes MRR gained by new accounts (net new), MRR gained from up-sells (net positive), MRR lost from down-sells (net negative), and MRR lost from cancellations (net loss).

Net Promoter Score (NPS)

The NPS is a score based on a single question; “How likely is it that you will recommend the company/ product/ service to a friend or colleague?”  Ratings are made on a scale of 0 - 10. Based on these results, people are grouped as Promoters (9-10), Passives(7-8) and Detractors(0-6)


An objection is a customer’s challenge or rejection of a product or services benefits. There are several different type of objections and may actually be caused by ineffective sales behaviours being used during the sales process.

Note: This is covered in the Spitfire eBook: Inbound Sales Playbook

Performance plan

A sales rep is put on a performance plan if they don’t make targets set over a certain period of time. The purpose of performance plans is to set clear and specific performance goals, provide a means for feedback, and develop sales skills.

Positioning statement

When opening a sales call it is necessary to engage the prospect in a conversation around their pain points. The positioning statement sets the scene to start off the conversation. It is often useful to ask for permission to ask a few questions of the customer in the positioning statement. For example: Dear Mr X I saw that you downloaded our eBook about xyz processes and I was hoping I could ask you a few questions about the processes you are currently using?

Profit margin

A ratio of profitability that measures how much money a company actually keeps in earnings. It's calculated either as a) net income divided by revenues, or b) net profits divided by sales.


A quota is a defined sales goal. It describes the amount of sales that a sales rep must generate over a given time frame.

Sales methodologies

Sales methodologies are the behaviours and skill sets used to follow a sales process. Some examples of sales methodologies are SPIN selling, Conceptual Selling, SNAP Selling, The Challenger Sale, Sandler Sales, and CustomerCentric Selling.


This is a sales technique where a sales rep sells a customer a higher end version of the product than was originally sought by the customer. The most famous up-sell is the McDonald’s example of “Would you like to supersize that?”

Value proposition

This is a statement that links your offering to the pain point of the customer and describes how it “heals” the pain

“Tip: Your value statement must contain three parts:

1. Description of our offering

2. Description of the customer’s problem/pain point

3. How it will solve the problem/pain point”

(Extract from Spitfire eBook: Inbound Sales Playbook)


Marketing Terms




Unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer's mind 


This is short for web log or weblog. An individual or group of people usually maintains a blog. A personal blog or business blog will traditionally include regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material, such as photos and video.

Blogging is a core component of inbound marketing, as it can accomplish several initiatives simultaneously -- like website traffic growth, thought leadership, and lead generation.

Bounce rate

Website bounce rate: The percentage of people who land on a page on your website and then leave without clicking on anything else or navigating to any other pages on your site. A high bounce rate generally leads to poor conversion rates because no one is staying on your site long enough to read your content or convert on a landing page (or for any other conversion event).

Email bounce rate: The rate at which an email was unable to be delivered to a recipient's inbox. A high bounce rate generally means your lists are out-of-date or purchased, or they include many invalid email addresses. In email, not all bounces are bad, so it's important to distinguish between hard and soft bounces before taking an email address off your list

Business to Business (B2B)

When a company sells to another organisation rather than selling to an individual consumer

Business to Consumer (B2C)

When a company sells to an individual consumer rather than to another organisation

Closed-loop marketing

Closed-loop marketing is being able to implement, monitor, track and show how marketing efforts have impacted bottom-line business growth. An example would be tracking a website visitor as they become a lead to the very last touch point when they close as a customer.

When done correctly, you’d be able to see just how much of your marketing investment yielded new business growth. One of the biggest business benefits of implementing an inbound marketing strategy and utilizing inbound marketing software is the ability to execute closed-loop marketing.

Conversion rate

This refers to the percentage of people who completed an action that the marketing department intended them to e.g. filling out a form or downloading a piece of content. Content with high conversion rates are performing well.

Comparative advertising

The type of advertising in which a company makes a direct comparison to another brand, firm or organisation


A person who uses our product or services. They may not be the actual buyer of the product but rather the user of the product. For example school children are the consumers of lunch time treats but their parents are the buyers.


In relation to inbound marketing, content is a piece of information that exists for the purpose of being digested (not literally), engaged with, and shared. Content typically comes in the form of a blog, video, social media post, photo, slideshow, or podcast. From website traffic to lead conversion to customer marketing, content plays an indispensable role in a successful inbound marketing strategy.

Content Management System (CMS)

A web application designed to make it easy for non-technical users to create, edit, and manage a website. It assists users to edit content make content searchable and easy to index and with automatically generating navigation elements, keep track of users and permissions, etc.

Conversion path

The "actions" on a company's website that help to capture leads. In its most basic form, a conversion path is of a call-to-action (usually a button that describes an offer) that leads to a landing page with a lead capture form, which redirects to a thank-you page where a content offer resides. In exchange for his or her contact information, a website visitor obtains a content offer to better help them through the buying process.

Cost-Per-Lead (CPL)

This is what it costs you marketing department to acquire a lead. This impacts the customer acquisition cost, and is a metric that marketers must monitor.

Customer loyalty

This is a key aim of marketing departments and the goal is to not only create a consumer who is a repeat buyer of the product, service or brand but one who will also refer your company to family and friends.


A specific profiling aspect that takes into consideration age, gender, income, family life, social class, etc. Often used in segmentation or for focal points in marketing and advertising strategies


eBooks are a form of marketing content aimed to identify a customer’s interest in something you can offer and thus generate leads. They are generally a more long-form content type than and go into in-depth detail on a particular topic or process.

Inbound marketing

Advertising your company via pull marketing tactics using content marketing such as podcasts, video, eBooks, email broadcast, SEO, Social Marketing, etc., rather than paid advertising. These marketing activities draw visitors in rather than marketers having to go out to get prospect’s attention. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and support over time.

Internal marketing

Efforts to market a marketing plan to individuals and executives within your own firm to gain their approval and/or support.


Sometimes referred to as "keyword phrases," keywords are the topics that webpages get indexed for in search results by search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing.

Picking keywords that you’ll optimize a webpage for is a two-part effort. First, you’ll want to ensure the keyword has significant search volume and is not too difficult to rank for. Then, you’ll want to ensure it aligns with your target audience

Landing Page

A landing page is a website page containing a form that is used for lead generation. This page revolves around a marketing offer, such as an eBook or a webinar, and serves to capture visitor information in exchange for the valuable offer. Landing pages are the gatekeepers of the conversion path and are what separates a website visitor from becoming a lead.

A smart inbound marketer will create landing pages that appeal to different personae (plural for persona) at various stages of the buying process

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

A lead that is ready to be marketed to. An MQL has had some sort of positive interaction with the company, and is now ready to be delivered marketing information and relevant information. 

New product development

The development of a new products that involves research, development, product testing a launching

Public relations

A series of media releases, conferences, and social images and more that make up and maintain the reputation of an organisation and its brands.


A prospect or lead generated from an existing customer or a prospect.

Relationship marketing

Establishing relationships with intentions of developing long term association with a prospect or potential customer. Much less expensive that gaining new customers

Target marketing

Marketing focuses its efforts on a specific group of customers usually clustered together due to specific common demographics.

Unique selling proposition

This is a statement that focuses a potential customer’s attention on some element of our product or service that differentiates it from our competitors’ e.g. lower cost, better quality, different variants, additional features etc.

User Experience (UX)

The term describes the entire experience a customer has with your business, from their discovery and awareness of the brand all the way through their interaction, purchase, use, and even referral of your brand to others.

Viral marketing

This is when customers actually market your idea, product or service offering on their own. This usually happens when your organisation puts material out there that attracts attention and discussion and becomes popular.

Terms common to sales and marketing



Account management 

High profile clients are often managed by a specific sales consultant. They are considered account managers and provide ongoing customer support, assisting with additional sales and up-selling and implementation support.

Appointment setting

This refers to a phase in the buying cycle in which the organisation contacts prospects and “warms” them up for a sales meeting. This can be achieved via one-on-one contact other via marketing content or by a sales consultant.

Business list 

This refers to any list containing names, email addresses, and contact numbers of businesses that could become prospects to consider for lead generation.

Buyer persona

This is a form of customer profiling. Using marketing research and real data about existing customers you create a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. This buyer persona helps inbound marketers to define their target audience, and helps sales reps to qualify leads. 

Learn more about developing buyer personas here.

Buying criteria

This is list of all possible information that an organisations’ prospective buyer would need to assist them to make the purchase. The Buyer Criteria would answer some questions like, "what is it?; "why should I buy it?"; "what is the price?"; "why do I need it?" and so on.

Buying process/ cycle

The buying cycle describes the process that potential buyers go through before deciding whether to make a purchase. Although it's been broken it down into many sub-stages to align with different business models, it can universally be boiled down to these three lifecycle stages:

Awareness: Leads have either become aware of your product or service, or they have become aware that they have a need that must be fulfilled.

Evaluation Leads are aware that your product or service could fulfill their need, and they are trying to determine whether you are the best fit.

Purchase: Leads are ready to make a purchase.

Look at Tip 2:Rethink the sales process in the Spitfire eBook: Inbound Sales Playbook

Closed deals

This occurs when the prospect is converted into a customer because they have signed an offer to purchase or agreed to purchase or employ your services.

Customer profiling

This refers to the task of scouting and identifying contacts that correspond to an enterprise’s ideal client requirements.

Hubspot refers to creating a buyer persona as a form of customer profiling. (See buyer persona in this list)


The person who, or role that, makes the final decision of a sale. They are often "guarded" by a gatekeeper.

Event marketing

This is mainly a set of marketing tasks designed specifically to promote an event (for example, a trade show) with the intent


A lead is a potential sales contact – an individual or organisation that expresses an interest in your goods or services

Qualified Lead: A contact that expresses continuous or frequent interest in your goods or service. In other words they have chosen to receive communication from your company, became educated about your product or service, and are interested in learning more. Marketing and Sales often have two different versions of qualified leads. These are:

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): By using marketing tracking tools and lead intelligence, specific leads will be pinpointed as a lead that is more likely to become a customer compared to other leads generated i.e. a MQL. These leads will then be given relevant and helpful information. 

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): Once the Marketing team have nurtured an MQL down the funnel and made them ready to be sold to, they get passed on to the  sales team. Once sales start working on selling to this lead they become known as a Sales Qualified Lead.

NB! From these definitions it can be seen that the both the marketing and the sales team need to give input and set expectations for the types of leads to be handed over.

Lead conversion

Lead conversion is the process of converting a lead into an account, contact, and/ or opportunity

Lead generation

A series of activities that are designed to stir buyer interest and generate engagements anchored on securing a successful purchase.

Lead qualification

The process of determining whether a lead matches an organisation’s ideal client profile (buyer persona), in which case such a lead has a higher chance of committing to a sale.

Lead scoring

Lead scoring is a methodology used to rank prospects against a scale that represents the perceived value each lead represents to the organisation. The resulting score is used to prioritise which leads require attention.


The process of identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements, in a profitable way

Marketing automation

A software system that helps organisations to manage a high volume of customer data.

Multi-channel marketing

This is described as an approach that allows an organization to interact with its constituents through a variety of platforms or channels (for instance, email, social media, telemarketing, PPC).


The pipeline shows the steps that client travels through with your company on the journey from Prospect to Customer. It will follow the business’ sales process and include sales methodologies.


According to Entrepreneur, prospecting is essentially the process of “(reaching) out to qualified prospects and (moving) them through the sales cycle from cold to warm to hot.”


Taken as a department within an enterprise, sales basically functions “to ‘sell what’s in stock”. The company has specific products or services and the job of Sales is to sell those things. Sales develops relationships with customers and/or channel partner

Sales funnel

The entire sales process as a whole from prospect to paying customer, and all marketing, advertising and sales processes in between.


This is a term that has been coined to refer to the practice of aligning Sales and Marketing efforts. With the informed consumer of today it is important for Marketing and Sales to align efforts to impact the bottom line the best they can through coordinated communication.

By learning some of these terms that have traditionally been either sales terms or marketing terms and by discussing which terms and even more importantly which functions could be combined and shared, you may be able to assist your sales and marketing departments to create a more synergised work effort and help your company to close the gap between creating a lead and closing the sale.

Sign up for blog updates!

Please note: Sales and marketing are dynamic fields and are constantly changing. These lists of terms and definitions have been taken from the various sources below and adapted and refreshed with the particular aim of educating both sales and marketing consultants:

Our Latest Blog Post.

Join with our Community

Never miss a post!

Be the first to know about new B2B SaaS Marketing insights to build or refine your marketing function with the tools and knowledge of today’s industry.