Dictionary to help sales and marketing people communicate


I think 90% of workplace conflict is because people don’t understand what their colleagues are saying. And no I don’t mean because people aren’t talking to each other or enough. But working with the same definitions. (Thanks Derek for the idea on this post)

Here is my dictionary that sales and marketing people need to agree on to make sure everyone is on the same page:

  • lead = someone who wants to buy something, has approval to buy something, knows when they want to buy it and the when is soon. (Soon depends on your business, I’d say 6 months in mine)
  • suspect = someone who meets the profile of someone who might buy stuff
  • prospect = someone who wants to buy stuff later
  • CRM = database for leads and customers
  • CRM ≠ address book
  • customer = person who bought something and would buy from you again
  • customer ≠ someone who bought something once but is currently using your competition, or doesn’t really want to hear from you again
  • presentation = a way to communicate a key message to a predetermined audience
  • presentation ≠ powerpoint slides
  • sales presentation = a presentation meant to drive a lead or a prospect into making a decision. This may require background info on the company, the industry and some facts and stats on the space from the analysts or influencers. The goal: convince the prospect to buy something (or say they aren’t so the sales rep can move on)
  • company presentation = a presentation that discussion the company history, recent events, products, positioning, place in the market. The goal: educate the audience on the company.
  • sales presentation ≠ company presentation
  • white paper = really long document or report on technology. Think term paper. Typically used by prospects for research. Can be used as a lead or prospect generation tool.
  • technical brief = the cliff notes version of the white paper.
  • landing page = a webpage who’s sole purpose is to collect information on suspects by promising a goodie like a white paper or other content
  • email blast = mass email sent out to a lot of people with a standard mass message
  • news release (or press release) = news ‘story’ or article that gets sent to the wire service for SEO, awareness or branding
  • lead generation = programs to generate leads (but make sure the word lead has been defined and agreed upon by sales and marketing teams)
  • lead generation ≠ name generation (remember, you need to define what a lead is before you can generate one)
  • SEO = search engine optimization
  • collateral = any piece of content that marketing puts out. This is a leave behind. Use this term sparingly, it isn’t very specific to any type of document. Collateral can include white papers, case studies, tech briefs, product sheets, press releases. The list goes on forever, so before talking about collateral, be specific on the type of piece and the goal of the piece.

I am sure I have missed a lot of other terms…feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.

Sales and marketing people, before you start complaining that one of you isn’t supporting the other. (Ahem, see the examples below)

  • Sales: marketing leads suck
  • Marketing: sales never follows up on my leads
  • Sales: we don’t have enough collateral
  • Marketing: There are 400 white papers in the library
  • Etc.

My suggestion, define your terminology upfront. It is impossible to talk if you aren’t using the same language.


Sales 2.0: Do we still need closers?


The description of a “good salesperson” used to include characteristics like terms like closer, persistent, aggressive, and money-motivated.

For complex sales, or solutions sales are closers necessary? Or is there something a little bit more subtle than a closer that can move from opportunity to revenue.

As I reflected in my other posts, sales people are no longer information gatekeepers, which really removes a whole skill set from the successful saleperson. I think today, a successful salesperson has a few of the following traits or roles in the sale:

  1. gather information from the prospect on the project
  2. analyze and assimilate the info into a solution
  3. build rapport
  4. guide the sales process
  5. be persistent

Sometimes all of these skills can be present in a single person, other times a team sale is appropriate to fill all of these roles. I didn’t include a “closer” on my list. I don’t think customers will tolerate it any more.

Tolerate. I used this word on purpose. I think when the sales person was in charge of the information and the process, the prospect felt like they had to put up with a certain level of inconvenience or annoyance to get something. Now that prospect 2.0 is in charge, I think their level of tolerance has decreased.

The interesting thing is that new personality types have a higher likelihood of having successful sales careers with team selling models, and informed buyers. The trusted advisor types, the super persistent people, and the process-oriented analyticals can play a role in the sale.