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Are you fluent in the language of leads?

Test your knowledge of sales prospecting vocabulary

Anika Temperante
Anika Temperante
Director of Sales and Marketing

If you’ve ever learned a foreign language, you know how important it is to master your vocabulary. The differences between words matter.

It’s exactly the same in lead generation. One of the keys to a successful lead generation campaign is making sure everyone associated with the project understands the terminology and agrees with its definition. When sales, marketing, executive stakeholders and your vendors all speak the same language, you’ll have a smooth path forward.

For an outbound calling campaign, you’ll want to include:

  • The marketing team responsible for lead generation
  • The sales team who will follow up on leads
  • Stakeholders who’ll see campaign reports
  • Decision-makers who’ll approve the budget
  • Any vendors or outsourced lead generation partners like your call center

Definitions of important lead generation terms

Once you’ve got your team in place, start with an overview of these important lead generation terms. Make sure everyone involved is willing to use the same definition.

Target market: The full universe of potential buyers for your product or service.

Your target market will be a large number, but in B2B, it won’t be infinite. Your specialty and the cost of your solution will impact your market size. For example, a specialized piece of robotic equipment may have a target market of a few hundred healthcare facilities, while a $75 computer accessory that works in large and small offices could have a target audience of hundreds of thousands of potential buyers.

Market segment: A subgroup of companies within your target market who share similar characteristics.

You can organize market segments by a number of variables, such as:

  • Geography (Asia-Pacific and Europe; west coast and Midwest segments)
  • Company size (annual revenue or number of employees)
  • Industry (HVAC, technology or healthcare)
  • Current systems in use (Apple vs. Android devices; cloud vs. on premises systems)

What’s important about market segments is defining a sales message that speaks directly to each group’s needs.

Contact: A record within your prospect list or marketing/sales database. Contacts may also be called sales prospects.

These are companies and individuals who have not yet interacted with your company. Many details—such as decision-maker names, titles, and qualifying criteria—will be unknown until you connect with them. One of the biggest values of a lead generation campaign is gathering market intelligence on your contacts, in order to advance them in the sales process.

Decision-maker: The individual who can authorize the final purchase of your product or service.

Working directly with the ultimate decision-maker is the ideal scenario for your lead generation campaigns. But, there’s value in engaging with others involved in the sale, especially for early-funnel activity or products and services that have a lengthy and complex sales cycle. In those cases, you may need to begin with lower-level influencers and work your way up to the final buyer. You may also need to identify and engage with technical approvers or procurement staff in order to close a sale.

Audience profiling: Asking questions and gathering data to better understand your contacts and your target audience.

Audience profiling is at the heart of effective lead generation campaigns, particularly outbound calling programs. The more you know about your potential buyers, the easier it becomes to deliver relevant marketing and sales messages that lead to conversions.

Lead generation: The ongoing activity of finding and engaging with potential buyers for your product or service. Lead generation takes many forms, from paid search and email to outbound calling and events. Using multiple channels simultaneously is one of the best ways to build awareness and engage your target audience.

Well-qualified leads should meet three requirements: A problem that your product or service can solve, a budget to afford your solution and the authority to make the purchase decision

Qualified lead: A potential buyer who interacts with your company and meets specific criteria that assess their fit with your solution and their readiness to buy. Most leads begin as contacts; once they express a need and engage with your company, they’re beginning the lead generation cycle.

Qualified leads should also include complete contact information for future nurturing, including decision-maker name, title and role, company details, direct telephone and opt-in email address.

Some companies take qualified leads a step further and break them into two categories: marketing and sales qualified leads.

Marketing qualified lead (MQL): A lead the marketing team determines is ready to pass along to the sales team for further follow-up. These are typically leads generated through the company website, digital advertising campaigns, email or outbound calling. Marketing will review the information or use a lead scoring system to determine which leads are “sales ready.” The top priority leads are designated as MQLs.

Sales qualified lead (SQL): A lead that both the marketing and sales teams deem qualified to buy your product or service. The decision-makers in most SQLs are actively engaged with the sales team and willing to take calls, emails, meetings and other outreach from your company. Most SQLs begin as MQLs.

Unqualified lead: A company that is not a good fit for your product or service. Identifying and disqualifying companies is just as important as generating qualified leads. It lets your sales and marketing teams focus their limited resources on the companies most likely to convert to closed sales, and not waste time, effort or budget on unqualified leads.

Common reasons for disqualifying a lead include:

  • Company size (too large or too small)
  • Industry (dental practice rather than physician clinic)
  • Lack of budget
  • Lack of interest in your product or service
  • No decision-making authority (such as purchases made at headquarters rather than branch locations)

Conversion: When a potential buyer moves from one stage to the next in your sales cycle. For example, a strong lead generation campaign will convert contacts to qualified leads. Then, your sales team will convert a portion of those qualified leads to closed sales.

Align marketing and sales for lead generation success

Getting the whole organization aligned on lead generation vocabulary establishes the right foundation for a successful outbound calling campaign. Whether you rely on your internal business development representatives, or leverage the talents of an outsourced inside sales partner like Volkart May, you can be sure your sales prospecting calls will be fruitful.

For more best practices on marketing-sales alignment for lead generation campaigns, check out this recent article.


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