10 Terms Only a Sales Rep Would Understand

A career in sales comes with challenges and rewards that you likely won't find in other professions. The pressure of being in control of how much (or little) you earn can be difficult, but those who embrace the culture of sales often find themselves in a lucrative and exciting industry.

Salespeople also have their own language, and only someone who has spent time in sales can speak it. Here are ten terms that only a sales rep would understand:

1) Gatekeeper - The gatekeeper is the most appropriate term to start with since it's likely the first person a sales rep will have to talk to before they can get to the decision-maker. Gatekeepers are the secretaries, assistants, and managers whose job it is to tell salespeople that their supervisor is unavailable. Successful sales reps have mastered the ability to get past even the best gatekeepers.

2) Putting up wood - This happens when a rep forecasts a deal that is unlikely to close either because the rep is not good at determining the quality of the prospect, or because the rep is struggling and needs to show some progress and ends up "putting up wood" on the board.

3) Always be closing - A-B-C, or 'Always Be Closing' is a sales mantra from the cult-favorite sales movie Glengarry Glen Ross. Originally a play by David Mamet, the movie adaptation features Alec Baldwin as a hard-charging real estate sales manager dressing down a poorly-performing team of agents, and drilling the ABC mantra into them over and over again as a reminder to Always, Be, Closing!

4) Lay-down - A "lay-down" is every salesperson's dream because it's a customer who doesn't negotiate or have any objections. While anyone who has spent any time in sales know that lay-downs don't come around very often, it's a sigh of relief when they do.

5) Green pea - A green pea is new rep just starting out in the business. Green peas also typically get to experience a bit of hazing as part of their welcome, which can range from going out to get coffee for the team, or being convinced that they have to wear a tuxedo to work because the CEO is "stopping by the office on Friday."

6) Skating - Skating is a serious offense in the sales world. If a sales rep 'skates' another rep, it means that they closed a deal that belongs to that rep. Of course different companies have different rules about what's acceptable and what isn't, and whether a customer that's entered into the CRM (or SalesMesh) is fair game (they aren't), but skating happens more often than you'd think as sales reps battle their way to the top.

7) One-legger - A "one-legger" is a challenge to most sales reps, as term refers to a sales appointment, prospect, or pitch where only one of two or more decision makers are present. This could be a pitch to a VP who can't make decisions without the CEO, a husband who can't make decisions without his wife, or any other situation where the person cannot proceed with the sale without consulting the other decision-maker (the other leg) first.

8) KISS - KISS is an acronym for Keep It Simple Stupid. While this expression transcends sales, it addresses an area where many sales reps tend to struggle: over-complicating the customer's buying experience. It's the difference between selling a feature instead of a benefit, and not keeping things simple enough for the customer to buy from you. The customer doesn't need to know how the sausage is made, only that they will love how it tastes!

9) Get-me-done - A "get-me-done" is somewhat similar to a lay-down, but for different reasons. While a lay-down is usually a qualified prospect who doesn't care about price, a get-me-done is a challenged prospect who really wants the product, but has trouble qualifying, whether for financial or other reasons. The good thing about a get-me-done is that they will work with you to get the deal pushed through, and if you can go the extra mile and close the deal, they can become a lifelong customer.

10) Whale - Not all opportunities in sales are created equal. Landing one major account or customer can mean the difference between mediocrity and unimaginable success. A whale usually means the latter. A whale is a major account or client that can make your month, quarter, year, or even your entire career. But like Captain Ahab from Moby Dick, remember just how difficult it can be to land a whale.

Leo is the CEO and co-founder of AppMesh, the makers of SalesMesh. Prior to joining AppMesh, he worked for Salesforce. His favorite TV sales scene was the Kodak pitch in Mad Men season 1, episode 13.

SalesMesh is the personal CRM/sales app that works the way you sell. Automatically track customer interactions, notes, schedule follow-ups, collaborate with your network, sync to and from Salesforce all from your iPhone and iPad -- even when you're offline. Learn more here.
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