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  • Writer's pictureNat Sharp

Sales and marketing glossary

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

Hands framing staring eyes

Demystifying sales and marketing jargon

Like marketing, there are a lot of specific terms used in sales. I’ve tried to capture some of the main terms I feel are most important. If you aren't familiar with some of these terms, it is well worth incorporating these into your business. This glossary has been prepared with definitions used by the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Chartered Institute of Sales.

Above the line (ATL)

Advertising for which a payment is made and for which commission is paid to the advertising agency.


An advertisement which is designed to have the appearance of an editorial.

Artificial intelligence

The use of computers to successfully perform tasks that humans can do - also called machine intelligence.

Average contract value (ACV)

This is the average revenue you derive from a single customer in a given period.


Stands for business-to-business. It is an exchange of products and services between two companies instead of between a company and a private individual or ‘consumer’.


Stands for business-to-customer. It is the exchange of products and services between a company and an individual ‘consumer’.

Behavioural targeting

An internet marketing term. Technology that targets users with advertisements based on previous browsing behaviour and patterns.

Below the line

Non-media advertising or promotion when no commission has been paid to the advertising agency. Includes direct mail, point of sale displays, giveaways.

Big Data

Gathering and storing large amounts of information.


The set of physical attributes of a product or service, together with the beliefs and expectations surrounding it - a unique combination which the name or logo of the product or service should evoke in the mind of the audience.

Brand equity/value

The real value that a brand name is worth encompassing the name, the logo and the emotional association.

A fictional, generalised profile of your ideal customer.


The methods used by a company to communicate and interact with its customers.

Channel sales

Is a method of classifying and deploying your sales into groups focusing on different distribution channels such as in-house sellers, retailers and dealers etc.


Churn is the percentage rate at which a customer stops subscribing, using or paying for a product/service.

Customer acquisition cost (CAC)

Is the cost that is required to acquire a new paying customer for a product or service.


Bringing the prospect to a point of decision.

Cold calling

The process of approaching prospective customers either by telephone or face-to-face "cold", or with no introduction or prior contact.

Content marketing

The process for creating and distributing relevant material, in any format, to your target audience with the express aim of engaging with the audience to drive a profitable relationship.


The act of converting a prospect to a client or customer.

Creative process by which written content is prepared for advertisements or marketing material.

Corporate identity or image

The character a company seeks to establish for itself in the mind of the public, reinforced by consistent use of logos, colours, typefaces and so on.


This stands for customer relationship management and most often involves using customised software to log and track customer data and interactions.

Cost Per Click (CPC)

A specific type of cost-per-action program where advertisers pay for each time a user clicks on an advert or link.

Data mining

Researching to find leads or "most probable customers" in your territory.

Decision maker

Any prospect who is capable and authorised to make a decision to purchase a product or service.

Digital marketing

Marketing of goods and services though digital channels to reach consumers. Channels may include the internet, social media, mobile phones and electronic billboards as well as digital Radio and TV.

Delivery of an advertising or promotional message to customers or potential customers by mail.

Direct marketing

All activities which make it possible to offer goods or services or to transmit other messages to a segment of the population by post, telephone, email or other direct means.

Gate keeper*

Someone who screens your attempts to approach the person who makes the buying decisions.

Updated regulations regarding data protection which came into force in May 2018.

Go-to-market plan

Refers to a set of actions with the aim of optimizing marketing and sales to establish the value of a new product or service.

Inbound sales

Is a transaction whereby purchases occur as a result of customers directly approaching your business.

Key performance indicators (KPIs)

Are the most relevant measurable values indicate whether a business has succeeded in achieving targets.


Anyone you could approach who could become a customer.

Lead generation

Is a set of activities aimed at generating interest around a product or service through marketing.

Lead nurturing

Refers to the process of engaging and building long-term relationships with prospective customers through different marketing techniques that develop their preference for your product and services.

Lead qualification

Is the process of determining whether a potential customer has the characteristics of your ideal client.

Lead scoring

Is the process of assigning a relative value to each lead based on different criteria, with the aim of ranking leads in terms of engagement priority.

Lifetime value

Prediction of the profit gained over the course of the entire future relationship with a customer.


The difference between the cost price and the sale price of a product.

Market segmentation

The division of the market place into distinct subgroups or segments, each characterised by particular tastes and requiring a specific marketing mix.

Marketing plan

A written plan, usually in-depth, describing all activities involved in achieving a particular marketing objective, and their relationship to one another in both time and importance.

The set of objectives which an organisation allocates to its marketing function in order to support the overall corporate strategy, together with the broad methods chosen to achieve these objectives.

NPS (Net Promoter Score)

A 10-point rating system that allows you to measure your customers’ happiness, loyalty, and odds of referring new customers to your business.


Is the process or act of introducing a new customer to your product or service.


A document containing all your prospective customers arranged according to the stage in which they are in your purchasing process.


Researched information regarding your prospects such as name, the best time to call, background information and possible needs, that you can then use to build rapport.

Product life cycle

The progress of a product from the inception of the idea, via the main period of sales, to its eventual decline.


Any “lead” or decision maker who has shown any type of interest in your product or service.

The function or activity that aims to establish and protect the reputation of a company or brand, and to create mutual understanding between the organisation and the segments of the public with whom it needs to communicate.


Referral means the act of generating sales leads wherein a third party shares information about a new prospect.

Retention rate

The percentage of clients you keep over a given period.

Sales cycle

The beginning to the end of your sales process. Starts normally with data-mining, and ends with obtaining referrals from your client.

Sales enablement

Sales enablement is the process of ensuring that all customer-focused employees have the information and skill set to sell.

Sales funnel

A buying process that a business can lead customers through when purchasing products. The sales funnel is divided into what are referred to as stages that take a customer from awareness to action.


Is the process of subdividing a large market into distinct partitions based on demographics and other factors, with the aim of formulating separate strategies to better engage the consumers.

Service level agreement (SLA)

Is a contract between a service provider and a consumer that specifies the quality, availability, restrictions, and other aspects of the service.

SMART objectives

A simple acronym used to set objectives is called SMART objectives. SMART stands for:

1. Specific – Objectives should specify what they want to achieve.

2. Measurable – You should be able to measure whether you are meeting the objectives or not.

3. Achievable - Are the objectives you set, achievable and attainable?

4. Realistic – Can you realistically achieve the objectives with the resources you have?

5. Time – When do you want to achieve the set objectives?

SME (Small to Medium Enterprise)

Usually defined as organisations with fewer than 250 employees, with medium businesses having 50 to 249 employees and small businesses having up to 49 employees. Small businesses include micro businesses, which can be separately defined as having up to five employees.

SWOT analysis

A method of analysis which examines a company's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Often used as part of the development process for a marketing plan, or to feed the results of a marketing audit back into a revised plan.

Target market

Group of people that a company focuses its marketing effort around with the goal of converting these people into customers.

Top of the Funnel (TOFU)

Refers to the top and biggest portion of a sales or marketing funnel where prospects enter a screening process until only the leads most inclined to purchase are left.

Unique selling point/proposition (USP)

Is a marketing concept that refers to the distinct advantage a business has over other competitors.


Offering a more expensive product or something extra to encourage a higher spend.

Value proposition

Is a message that encapsulates the reasons, such as benefits and unique attributes, consumers would consider desirable in purchasing a product/service.


Refers to a market where a business targets only a small subset of customers such as a specific industry, sector, profession, or niche.


A blog posting that contains video rather than just words.

White label

Is a term describing a product or service that can be purchased by a business entity and legally re-sold, marketed, and distributed under the entity’s own brand or trademark.

*only relevant in business-to-business

Find out more on the differences between sales and marketing, read my top tips on preparing a sales pitch and have a look at my infographic on preparing a sales strategy?

Or get in contact with me for a chat about any element of your sales or marketing. I offer a 30 minute free consultation to all businesses.

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