The Complete Guide to Sales Acronyms and Sales Terms

In the world of sales, and especially b2b software sales, common sales terms, sales acronyms and abbreviations are used in almost every meeting, report and conversation that is taking place. Sales acronyms can be used to describe sales roles and positions, sales coaching frameworks, sales processes and more. Whether you are new to sales or a seasoned pro, this list of sales acronyms and common sales terms will help you better familiarize yourself with not only sales terminology, but give a little more information around how each of these sales roles, sales frameworks or sales functions can help you optimize your sales organization. 


Sales roles are becoming increasingly specialized as sales organizations become more sophisticated. Here is a look at a number of common sales roles that exist in b2b sales and the sales acronyms and sales terminology that are often used when describing the various sales roles. 


  • SDR

    • SDR is a common term used to describe Sales Development Representatives. Sales development is an explosive new division of sales that serves pipeline development for the organization. Sales Development Representatives may roll up to sales or marketing depending on the structure of your organization. Sales Development Representatives (or reps for short) can serve both inbound our outbound sales functions. Inbound SDRs typically work marketing leads that come in via form, chat or phone calls; while outbound sales development representatives focus on cold calling and emailing prospects to build pipeline. In some orgs, outbound prospecting via SDRs drives more than 50% of the total pipeline. 


Click here to see an example sales scorecard for the activities and objectives of the SDR sales role. 


  • BDR

    • BDR is a sales term that describes Business Development Representatives. Business development representatives can sometimes be essentially the same as the SDR role or they can be more focused on field sales if your organization relies on field sales reps (or FSRs!). The business development reps are tasked with building pipeline via face to face meetings, outbound calls and emails, or forging new strategic partnerships and relationships. 


Click here to see an example sales scorecard for the activities and objectives of the BDR sales role. 


  • ISR

    • ISR is a sales acronym used to describe Inside Sales Representatives. Inside Sales Reps function similarly to the inbound SDR role described above. Inside sales reps focus more on inbound marketing driven leads from demo request forms, webinars, or content downloads. ISRs do not focus on outbound sales efforts or cold prospecting. 


Click here to see an example sales scorecard for the activities and objectives of the ISR sales role. 


  • AE

    • AEs are the sales organization’s closers. AE stands for Account Executives. Usually sales organizations split their sales teams into the BDR, SDR, or ISRs to develop the “at-bats” that the AEs will get to try to close. When your development reps focus on creating introductory meetings or qualified opportunities, your best closers can work more of those because they don’t have to focus on getting prospects take meetings. By leveraging both the development reps alongside your closing AEs, you are setting your sales org up for more explosive growth. 


Click here to see an example sales scorecard for the activities and objectives of the AE sales role. 



There is a list of sales terms that you are likely to encounter in conversations centering around sales data, metrics, or performance reporting. Most commonly used sales terminology that centers around data will involve sales acronyms. Here is a list of common sales terms you are likely to use or encounter in data-driven sales conversations: 


  • KPIs

    • Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, are an umbrella term used for describing a group of metrics important to the sales team. Key Performance Indicators should be used to optimize your sales team, but they don’t have to be daunting or complicated. Consider breaking down your sales KPIs into three different buckets: 

      • Activities

      • Objectives

      • Results

    • Most sales teams go wrong by only attempting to measure results as key performance indicators. Results are not manageable KPIs and are produced as an outcome of the activities and objectives that your sales reps focus on. Breaking out activity and objective KPIs into sales scorecards allows you to manage and impact the activities that produce the objectives that lead to the results. Common sales activities are phone calls, emails, social connections while objectives are meetings set, meetings held, qualified opportunities or more. The results will be revenue or closed won centered. 

>>>Click here to get our full Sales KPI report <<<


  • MQL

    • MQL stands for marketing qualified lead. This is usually a demo request from a website or could be a softer content style lead that has “scored-up” through various website activities. Inside Sales Reps or Sales Development Reps will usually be the ones who “work” marketing qualified leads to try to get them to take a meeting with an AE. While this metric is usually the responsibility of your org’s marketing team, sales teams are stakeholders to MQLs because without them, their inside sales reps or SDRs wouldn’t have leads to work and call down. So although this isn’t sales terminology, but marketing terminology, it is still one to know. 

  • SAL

    • SALs are sales accepted leads. This metric is typically an indicator that it is a candidate to book a meeting with. Different orgs set the threshold for this differently, but at our organization, we determine that leads hit the SAL stage when the meeting has been booked. This means they have already raised their hand coming inbound through the site and accepting the meeting or that the outbound team has identified the right stakeholder at the right org to set the meeting. 

  • SQL

    • SQLs are sales qualified leads. This usually indicates that the lead is the right ICP (another sales acronym!) or ideal customer profile. When a lead becomes a highly qualified opportunity, they hit the sales qualified lead stage. Again, the benchmark could widely vary, but as an example, we say a lead is an SQL if they have gone through a demo and wish to proceed to a next step. Something like custom quote might be a next step. 

  • CW

    • Sales deals will be closed out one of two ways. Deals are either lost or they are won. CW is a common sales acronym to describe sales deals that have been “won.” CW is used to represent “closed: Won” deals. This likely comes from out of the box salesforce terminology. 

  • CL

    • This is the acronym you hate to see at the end of the month or quarter. Deals denoted as CL stand for deals that are closed: lost. The opportunity is dead at the point deals are marked CL; however, your marketing team may pull CL reports and attempt wake the dead campaigns to re-engage old opportunities, potentially after time has past and budget may be more likely. 



  • ICP

    • ICP stands for ideal customer profile. This is an important one to know because if you are considering outbound efforts, you want your SDRs focusing on the best fit. They are more likely to set meetings if they have been given an ideal customer profile to go after. Some sales companies use org size, role, title or industry to help shape what their ICP is. 

  • ABM

    • ABM stands for account based marketing. While this is another term that may be "owned" by marketing, sales is a key stakeholder and often works alongside marketing to achieve ABM pipeline. ABM involves sales giving a target list who they hope to sell into and via marketing tactics like display, nurture, webinars, and events the goal is to get an "in" and get a meeting at the account. 

  • POC

    • POCs stand for Proof of Concept. You may run into POCs in enterprise sales more often than in any other market segment. Typically large sales teams will have big buying teams and stakeholders from purchasing, technology, sales opps, sales enablement and more. Before you can get total buy-in across all purchasing stakeholders, they may require going through a proof of concept. 

  • CRM

    • CRM stands for Customer Relationship Manager. You probably associate Salesforce or Hubspot with the sales acronym CRM. Those are two common CRM vendors, but there are countless others that exist across various industries. CRMs are meant to help teams manage their sales funnels 



There is another place in the sales world where sales acronyms and commonly used sales terms can be found: sales coaching frameworks. A number of sales coaching models and frameworks use acronyms to describe a sales coaching philosophy or process. Here is a list of commonly used sales coaching acronyms: 

  • GROW

    • Grow stands for Goals, Reality, Options, Will. This coaching model puts heavy emphasis on goal setting for success


    • GAINS stands for Goals, assessment, ideas, next steps, and support. The GAINS model puts a heavy emphasis on process and outlined steps to achieve success


    • CIGAR stands for current reality, ideal, gaps, action review. This coaching model puts a heavy emphasis on  reflection and iteration. 



  • Leads
    • leads are at the very top of the sales funnel. They can be inbound or outbound driven and typically represent the contacts or companies that sales reps will attempt to close.
  • Opportunities 
    • Opportunities are further down the sales funnel than leads, but they aren't done deals yet. Sometimes opportunities can be further broken down into SALs, SQLs or other micro-stages. See above for those acronym definitions!
  • Pipeline
    • Sales pipeline represents the dollar amounts open on your opportunities. This is important to track because it gives you insight into the market segment your opportunities are made of. 
  • Deals
    • Sometimes opportunities are referred to as deals. This is something you will encounter in the Hubspot CRM ecosystem for sure. 
  • Commit 
    • Commit is usually a status on an opportunity. If the sales person has a verbal commit from their contact, it is further down than a SQL, but still not a CW deal. 
  • Sales Funnel
    • Sales funnel describes the journey from market awareness down to customer. It is important to measure your sales funnel to optimize different parts of your sales org. With a sales funnel, you can understand how many days it typically takes deals to go from lead to opportunity to CW, and this helps with your forecasting.

If this sales acronyms list was helpful, contact us to learn more about other ways Ambition can help your sales team! 

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