What Are You Talking About? – Sales & Marketing

Kevin Peterson
By: Kevin Peterson
Reading Time: 9 minutes

A Guide to Marketing Terminology for Non-Marketers – Part 1: Sales & Marketing

This is the first blog in a series on digital marketing terminology. Our goal as an agency is to speak authoritatively and execute effectively. We desire to guide our clients to success through the world of digital marketing while not losing them in a cloud of jargon. To that end, we are sharing a series of blogs to help familiarize business leaders of every stripe with the terminology they may encounter when engaging in marketing activities

First, we’ll lay our foundation with Sales & Marketing terms, then turn our attention to Search Engine Optimization, Website Development & Hosting, Digital Advertising, and finally Graphic Design, Photography & Video.

When it was released into theaters in 1992, it was a box-office failure, but Glengarry Glen Ross has forged a path as a cult classic in large part for its characterization of the sales industry and oversimplification of the sales process. 

A - B - C. Always. Be. Closing. 

If you know the film, then you can hear Alec Baldwin’s voice berating the room of salespeople (with rather colorful language I’m told; I’ve shared a sanitized sample) who are just trying to do their jobs. The leads are weak...the new leads are gold. The coffee is for closers. And the steak knives are for second place. 

Alec Baldwin's character in Glengarry Glen Ross berates a room full of salesmen with colorful marketing and sales terminology

As any business leader can tell you, there’s much more to selling than just getting people to sign on the dotted line. There’s a dance between marketing and sales to produce leads, hand off leads, close deals, and turn customers into raving fans. Scattered across this dance floor is a mountain of terms and phrases that may be secondhand to some and completely obscure to others. We don’t want anyone to trip and look silly, so we put together this glossary of terms to keep everyone working in sales and marketing dancing to the same beat – speaking the same language. 

HELPFUL HINT: Looking for a specific term? Use the find functionality on your browser – Cmd+F (Mac) or Ctrl+F (PC) – to quickly find the word or phrase you are looking for. We opted for contextual rather than alphabetical organization when sharing this information.


Business-to-Business – Refers to a business that offers products or services to other businesses


Business-to-Consumer – Refers to a business that offers products and services to consumers or end-users.


Sales Qualified Lead – Any prospective customer who has indicated they are ready to talk to a sales representative. In some cases these leads have been vetted by the marketing team. In other cases, a lead is deemed sales-qualified by the action they take within your marketing and sales funnel.


Marketing Qualified Lead – Any individual who has expressed interest in your brand by performing actions your company has deemed valuable. This could include opting in to receive emails, downloading a content offer, visiting specific pages of your website, or interacting with your social media posts.


Customer Relationship Management – A CRM stores pertinent information about potential and existing customers and interactions they have had with your company. These interactions can include things like products or services purchased, current and past sales deals proposed, web pages visited, emails opened etc. A CRM can be as simple as a spreadsheet and as complex as a multi-faceted SaaS tool (Software-as-a-Service) offered online.


An individual or company who has expressed interest in purchasing your product or service.


An individual or company who has gone beyond expressing interest and is now actively engaged in communication with your sales team. This can often be referred to as deals.


A sales pipeline tracks deals as they move through your sales process from discovery to close. A well-developed pipeline will often indicate the value of deals contained in each stage and the percentage at which deals move from one stage to the next.

Buyer Persona

A detailed description of a fictitious customer created to represent the ideal customer or audience for an organization’s product or service. Buyer personas are developed from market research and real data collected by an organization.

Demand Generation

A generic term referring to the collective tactics used to generate interest in your company’s product or service. Demand generation focuses on educational content to reach previously untapped markets and consumers.

Multi-Channel Marketing

Simply put, it’s the use of numerous marketing channels (e.g. website, social media, email, display ads etc) to reach a wider audience and gain more brand awareness. Also known as omni-channel marketing. (Marketers use these lofty terms to sound important. They appreciate you indulging them.)


Call-to-Action – Calls-to-action are any prompt on a piece of marketing content (ie, flyer, video, web page, email, etc) that informs the audience of the action they should take to enjoy the benefits of the product or service being promoted. Calls-to-action can be messages such as “sign up,” “order now,” “call to learn more,” or “subscribe to our email newsletter.” CTAs on a website often lead to a conversion page.

Conversion Page

Also known as a landing page, a conversion page is any page on your website where visitors perform a valuable action, such as completing a purchase or filling out a contact form. 


Sometimes referred to as the buyer’s journey, a marketing funnel is essentially the journey a customer takes from awareness about your business to being a paying customer. Businesses have varying stages in their funnel but generally speaking, the progression goes from awareness to interest/consideration/evaluation to action/purchase. Some funnels will include things like loyalty or advocacy/brand evangelism at the bottom of their funnels.

Top of Funnel Content

Utilized within a content marketing strategy, this is content that has a broad appeal and drives awareness of your product or service. This can be blogs, social media posts, educational videos etc. You may choose to offer top-of-the-funnel content as a content offer to generate MQLs.

Bottom of the Funnel Content

This is content intended for individuals who are nearing the point of decision/action in their buying journey. Bottom-of-the-funnel content is focused on differentiating your product or service from your competition or giving more in-depth information about how to engage with your organization. This is also an opportunity for a content offer.


Cost Per Acquisition – This metric refers to the overall cost paid for your marketing activity to produce a customer. It is calculated by dividing the overall cost spent on marketing activity and dividing it by the total number of customers acquired during a given period of time.


Customer Lifetime Value – This number illustrates the predicted net profit expected from a customer for the lifetime of their relationship to your company. Accurately predicting this number aids in determining the CPA your company is willing to spend.


Return on Investment – This broadly used term bears the same meaning in the marketing world as in the financial world. ROI is simply the profit you experience as a result of your marketing or sales efforts.

Affiliate marketing

This tactic employs influencers, online advertisers, salespeople, etc., outside of your organization to promote your product or service. In return for their efforts, you share a portion of your proceeds based upon a predetermined metric such as sales, clicks, registrations or a combination of factors.

Brand Messaging

The set of messages that will define a company’s marketing message and voice. This can include things like your slogan, key messages, glossary of terms, tone of voice, and other elements critical to ensuring your brand sounds the same across any medium.

Also known as inbound marketing, content marketing is a strategy for the creation and distribution of helpful content as part of an overall digital selling strategy. The goal is to attract and engage a target audience and provide value that will in turn generate leads and customers. The following tactics are employed in a content marketing strategy.


Regular posting to your website of content about a specific topic intended to inform or engage your target audience.

Content Offer

Any form of content shared for free with your website visitors in exchange for contact information such as email address or phone number


An authoritative, in-depth, persuasive report on a specific topic with a problem and solution


A visual piece of content designed to relay complex information or concepts in a visual, easy-to-follow format


A longer form piece of content published in pdf format, often used as a content offer to generate marketing qualified leads (MQLs)

Case Study

A report detailing a specific challenge an organization faced, the solution they employed to overcome the challenge, and the results of their efforts. Case studies can be presented as blog posts, white papers, videos, etc

Evergreen Content

Any content that remains relevant to your target audience for an extended period of time after publication. Case studies, how-to guides, blogs, etc can all be created to be helpful content for years to come.

Digital Advertising

Purchasing advertising space on any digital platform including search engines, social media platforms, ad networks and individual websites. While not traditionally considered a part of content marketing, if an ad budget is being employed within an overall strategy, the digital advertising should work in harmony with the content strategy. For instance, you could run digital ads that lead to a content offer in order to generate marketing qualified leads (MQLs).

Search Engine Optimization – The tactic of optimizing your website or web page to improve its visibility and gain higher rankings in organic search engine results to ultimately increase the amount of traffic to your website.

Search Engine Marketing – The tactic of utilizing paid advertising options provided by search engines such as Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, etc to build awareness about your brand and send traffic to your website. 

Social Media Marketing – The tactic of engaging social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter/X, LinkedIn etc to engage your audience and attract new followers through posting various forms of content such as posts, video, photos, graphics, links etc. SSM is often performed in concert with a content marketing strategy.


An individual social network where users and businesses alike can create profiles to share information and interact with others.


Typically refers to an individual’s presence on a given platform where they share information about themselves and post updates, news, opinions, etc.


Typically refers to an organization, business, or cause’s presence on a given platform where they share information. Pages typically offer different functionality than a standard profile.


The infinite scroll of posts/updates shared by profiles and pages a user follows on a given platform. Feeds are generally powered by algorithms intended to offer content the user will find engaging.


A metric that indicates the level of interaction your account has within a social media platform. Likes, shares, comments, etc., are all factors that make up an overall engagement metric.


Within the context of social media, an impression is anytime your content appeared on someone’s feed or they saw your content directly on your company page.


Individuals on a social media platform with larger-than-average followings who share their opinions about issues and/or reviews of products. These individuals can be leveraged within a marketing strategy to reach new audiences.

An account-based marketing (ABM) campaign is one focused on potential high-value clients in your market or business segment. An ABM campaign utilizes personalized content, experiences, and relationship-building techniques to generate interest in your product or service.

Simply put, using emails to guide individuals to your website. The contacts may be a list of customers or subscribers you’ve amassed yourself or a list you’ve purchased from a third party.

Drip Campaigns / Workflows

A series of email messages sent to an audience based upon criteria you’ve established (ie, customers who purchased a certain product, contacts who attended an event, etc.) or triggers you’ve set (ie, website visitors who downloaded a content offer, subscribers who clicked a specific link in an email). The emails are sent on a schedule set by the marketer and a workflow could have several branches depending on the triggers set within a workflow.


Marketing automation refers to the board set of tools that a marketing team may use to perform tasks and processes automatically. Automation has many different applications, but within the arena of email marketing, automation often refers to workflows.

Lead Nurturing

The tactic of sending relevant and engaging content to a contact to keep your brand front-of-mind and lead them toward your desired outcome. This can also be accomplished through SMS marketing and traditional means such as direct mail.


Anyone who has provided their email address to your business in exchange for newsletter, marketing, and sales updates. These individuals have opted in to receive your content.

Open Rate

This metric shows the percentage of people who opened your email against the number of people who received the email. While there are variations between industries and the nature of the list, the benchmark for open rate has consistently been 20%. 


Click Thru Rate – This metric illustrates the percentage of people who clicked a link in your email message. It equals the total number of clicks divided by the number of contacts who received the email. A good benchmark to aim for in email CTR is 2%.

A/B Testing

This is a method in marketing research where variables are tested to see what message, layout, graphic, etc., is most effective. The goal in A/B testing is to sample your variables with a small group then send the rest of your list the message that performs the best in order to maximize your open rate and CTR.

Short Message Service Marketing – This is a form of marketing that businesses use to send promotions to customers via text messages. Simply put, SMS marketing is the same thing as text marketing. Like email marketing, SMS marketing is opt-in, which means the best use of SMS marketing is to send to lists where recipients have signed up to receive the messages.

The Ultimate Dictionary of Marketing Terms You Should Know – HubSpot
The Ultimate All-in-One Marketing Glossary – Digital Marketing Institute
219 Digital Marketing Terms & Definitions You Need To Know – Non-Profit Source
Glossary of Marketing Terms – MarketingTerms.com

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