Glossary of Sales Training Terms

Act

From theatre, an act is a main division in a play. We use the term to divide a sales conversation (e.g. on the telephone or at an appointment).

“We divide the sales conversation in 3 acts.”

Adherence

The quality of adhering – steady and comprehensive enacting of a process.

Advantages (product or service)

A trait of a product that makes it favourable when compared to another product.

Agenda

A list, plan or outline of events planned during a call or appointment.

Amiable (pleaser)

In personality phases, a state where a person seeks to gain comfort and reassurance from a relationship with the customer service representative.

Analytical (authority)

In personality phases, a state where a person seeks to gain comfort and reassurance from objectively presented data.

Appointment

An appointment is an arrangement to meet or call someone at a particular time and place. Organisations can further define an appointment ordinally (e.g. first, second, etc.), or by its nature (consultation, surgical, follow-up). Typically, call handlers schedule appointments, callers agree to appointments, whilst prospects and customers attend appointments. Do not confuse an appointment with a prospect – the former is an event whilst the latter is a person. Some organisations call these consultations or bookings, but the more general term is appointment.

“The caller made an appointment with Michelle.”

Average price

The average amount of money that a customer exchanges with the organisation for a product or service. Also see Price.

“The organisation estimated that the average price paid for the service was £2,000.”

Baby Boomers

People born between 1946 and 1964.

Benefit

A trait of a product that specifically improves a customer’s experience after they have purchased the product.

Bridging statement

Statement designed to transition between one scene to another. Examples include statements that help transition from Act 1 and Act 2 in the telephone call (“Do you mind if I ask you a few questions to understand your needs better?) and between the warm up and the intent statement (“Do you have any idea what we have planned for you today?”)

Buyer process

The buying process is made of the steps that a person will go through as they transition from caller, to lead, to prospect, to customer, and eventually referrer. The buying process also relates to the phases of the buying process including: needs identification, solution search, options evaluation, purchase decision, post-purchase evaluation.

Call

A call is an instance of speaking with someone on the telephone. A call could be incoming or outgoing, it could be a first call or a follow-up call. A call is not necessarily a sales conversation, which is qualified by an exchange of key information.

“Francesco made 30 follow-up calls with leads this month.”

Caller

A caller is anyone that calls the call handling team. Sometimes callers are called suspects. Do not confuse a caller with a lead, which is a step closer to a customer.

“The caller booked a first appointment with Laura.”

Call handler

Also known as a call operator. A call handler is someone who makes or answers calls, with the intent to convert the caller into a prospect. This person might work independently or with a team.

“Annie handled 10 calls from callers and converted 8 of them into prospects by booking them first appointments.”

Call handling team

Anyone within your organization who is responsible for answering calls from potential customers of self-pay products or services. Some organisations call these teams contact centre, call centre, customer service or sales.

“The call handling team needs training to convert more callers into prospects.”

Clarifying question

A clarifying question is designed to elicit more information about a caller’s or prospect’s question, smokescreen or objection, before attempting to answer or handle it.

Close Rate

A ratio of prospects to customers (typically measured after a first appointment).

“Michael converts an average of 16 out of 20 prospects into customers. He has an average close rate of 80%.”

Commitment

A pledge, undertaking, engagement or obligation the restricts freedom of action. An organisation might further define a commitment as a transaction or the setting of a later appointment.

“Christina asked the caller to make a commitment to an appointment.”

Commitment objective

A call handler or appointment handler’s goal during a call or appointment.

“Lisa’s commitment objective during this call was to schedule an appointment with the caller.”

Conscious incompetence – apprentice

In stages of learning, the first phase of learning where one knows what one doesn’t know.

Conscious competence – journey

In stages of learning, the first phase of learning where one knows what one knows.

Convincing strategy

Instructions for approaching people mindful of individual differences in gender, personality phase, and demographic.

Conversion rate

A ratio of leads to prospects (typically measured after a first sales conversation).

“Sandra converts an average of 8 out of 20 leads into prospects. She has an average conversion rate of 40%.”

Credibility statement

A statement designed to communicate ability (e.g. “I’ve been doing this job for 20 years.”)

Criteria

What a lead or prospect considers nice to have in order to make a commitment or purchase decision.

Customer

A new customer is a person that has elected to purchase a service that the organisation provides. The transition from a prospect to a customer is usually defined by the person’s commitment to schedule an appointment or making a transaction. Some organisations further define a customer as a client, patient, or guest. An organisation might have new and repeat customers.

“The customer called to re-arrange her surgical appointment.”

Customer service representative (CSR)

A person whose primary role is to handle appointments, including greeting customers on arrival, escorting customers through the acts of the call or appointment, scheduling appointments and taking payments. This person is sometimes called a liaison, counsellor, consultant, coordinator, or administrator. Sometimes, the role is assumed by administrators and secretaries. A customer service representative often has an implied responsibility for sales, and might be responsible for both call handling, appointment handling, or both.

Decision-maker

The decision-maker is the individual who has authority to make the purchase decision.

Decision-influencer

The decision influencer is the individual(s) who has/have influence over the decision-maker.

Deadline

The deadline is the point of time in the future for when a solution need to be in place.

Did not arrive (DNA) rate

The ratio of prospects that did not turn up to appointments.

“The organisation estimated that 2 out of every 10 prospects did not arrive at appointments – a DNA rate of 20%.”

Defence

A metaphor for the people in an appointment that have the responsibility for answering the most technical questions and objections during sales conversations. In elective surgical practice, this role is typically assumed by surgeons.

Deposit

A partial payment transaction made by a customer to an organisation, typically in exchange for an appointment.

“The prospect agreed to pay a deposit of £250 to secure a date and time for a surgical appointment.”

Discovery

Following an intent statement and preceding an information confirmation, a discovery is a set of structured questions designed to elicit emotional wants and rational needs from a lead or prospect during a call or appointment.

“There are 10 structured question clusters in a complete discovery.”

Do-something line

The invisible line of urgency that the caller’s or prospect’s past motivating incident or future motivating event must cross to compel them to change their current situation.

Dominant buying motive (DBM)

The most important reason for considering the product/service.

Ego (driver)

In personality phases, a state where a person seeks to gain comfort and reassurance from assuming control of the sales conversation.

Emotional objection

Objection relating to the product or service.

Empathy statement

A statement designed to show psychological identification with or vicarious experiencing of feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another (e.g. “I appreciate you might feel apprehensive about the first appointment.”

Enquiry

An inquiry (also spelled inquiry) is the act of asking for information. Do not confuse an enquiry with a call, a lead, or prospect. Callers make enquiries on calls.

“The caller made enquiries with 3 different organisations before booking an appointment with us.”

Examination

In a medical context, a set of examination protocols designed to diagnose and plan a treatment recommendation for a prospect, typically carried out by a surgeon or quasi-medical professional. Examinations can happen in non-medical contexts as well (e.g. dental, legal, accountancy).

“The examination is intended to determine if you are suitable for the procedure.”

Expectations statement

A statement that outlines what a customer service representative expects from a lead or prospect at the end of the sales conversation (appointment or call). Also see commitment objective.

FAB

See product features, product advantages, and product benefits.

Fact question

A fact question is designed to elicit a factual response from the respondent (e.g. “How long have you had the problem?”)

Feature (product or service)

A trait or characteristics of a product.

Feeling question

A feeling question is designed to elicit how the respondent feels about the fact (e.g. “How do you feel about living with this problem?”).

Follow up question

A follow up question is designed to elicit more information about a caller’s or prospect’s answer to a core question. Follow up questions are further defined as fact questions, feeling questions, and impact questions.

Forward

A metaphor for the people in an appointment that have responsibility for greeting arrivals, scheduling appointments and taking payments. In elective surgical practice, this role is typically assumed by customer service or sales staff (e.g. receptionists, liaisons, counsellors, administrators, secretaries).

Future motivating event (FME)

An event in the future that could be satisfied/enhanced by the product/service.

Gender

Socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women. Gender is further defined as masculine and feminine traits, relating to convincing strategies.

Generation X

People born between 1965 and 1979.

Generation Y (Millennials)

People born between 1980 and 2000.

Greeting

Welcoming people to the sales conversation (a call or an appointment) with verbal and non-verbal communication signals with the intention of putting them at ease and relieving tension. A greeting can be followed by a warm up conversation.

“Jennifer performed a warm greeting.”

Handling objections

Following recommendations, handling objections is that process of clarifying, empathising, isolating, and overcoming obstacles in the way of commitments. In the medical context, defensive players (surgeons) handle clinical objections about procedures, risks and expectations, whilst forwards handle administrative objections about dates and money.

“The counsellor did a good job of handling my money objections by giving me affordable options for payment.”

Handover

Following an information confirmation and preceding an examination, the handover is a rehearsed statement that repeats the information confirmation in front of the person next in the chain of the appointment (e.g. a health care technician, quasi-medical professional or a surgeon). The purpose of the handover is to elicit agreement in front of third-parties in order to strengthen commitment and consistency.

“The counsellor performed a handover with the patient in front of the surgeon.”

Impact question

An impact question is designed to discover how a fact and feeling impacts the respondent (e.g. “How has this problem affected your life?”)

Information confirmation (IC)

Following a discovery and preceding a handover, an information confirmation is a statement that confirms the emotional wants and rational needs discussed in the discovery. The statement is used to elicit trust, show the prospect they are being listened to, and gain commitment. Information confirmations typically reiterate the problem, solution, dominant buying motives, the past motivating incident and/or future motivating event, objections, and timing.

“The information confirmation is an excellent way to summarise the information found in the discovery and commit the prospect to mentally purchasing the service.”

Intent statement

Following a warm up conversation and preceding a discovery, an intent statement is rehearsed statement in the form of an agenda for an appointment that outlines expectations for the goal of the appointment. Intent statements also contain statements designed for demonstrating empathy, takeaway statements designed for reducing pressure, and trial close statements designed to get agreement.

“Michelle delivered a compelling intent statement.”

Ladder of agreement

The layering of trial closes in multiple scenes of the call or appointment aimed at leverage the influencing principle of consistency.

Lead

A lead is a person that engages with the organisation’s call handling team for the purpose of having a sales conversation. They have typically responded to some kind of advertising (lead generation) and make their inquiry known to the organisation. Some organisations further define leads as someone who has provided a minimum data set (e.g. name, contact number and email) or anyone that has engaged with a call handler for a minimum time (e.g. 4 minutes).

“The lead rescheduled her first appointment.”

Meta-message

An underlying meaning or subtext of a spoken or written message.

Midfield

A metaphor for the people in an appointment that have responsibility for interfacing between the forwards and defence. In elective surgical practice, this role is typically assumed by quasi-medical staff (e.g. optometrists, healthcare technicians)

Minimum data set (MDS)

A minimum data set is a collection of related sets of information. Some organisations define a minimum data set as name, phone number, and email address.

“The caller did not give a minimum data set, so I didn’t consider him a lead.”

(Asking for) Money

The process of requesting payment for services in advance of the service being performed. Aspects of asking for money include discussing financing arrangements (instalment payments) and negotiation deposits (partial payments).

“Laura clarified how the prospect might pay for the treatment before asking for money.”

Needs

Something desired, demanded or required to satisfy a rational deficit.

Objection

An objection is an obstacle that the caller or respondent puts in the way of a commitment. They are usually statements which might be either true or false. Objections can be further subdivided as product (clinical), or procedural (administrative). Further, objections can either be emotional (e.g. “I don’t want to do this right now”) or emotional (e.g. “I don’t want to do this with you.”)

Options

The set of choices a customer service representative gives to a prospect with the purpose of enabling their choice to schedule a subsequent appointment and enact a transaction.

“Susanna laid out the options for dates and times before asking the prospect how they wanted to pay.”

Past motivating incident (PMI)

An incident occurring in the past that motivated the action to solve a problem.

Price

The price a customer pays for a product or service. For the purpose of planning and evaluation, a price point is typically expressed as an average.

“The service has a price of £4,000.”

Priorities

What a lead or prospect must have in order to make a commitment or purchase decision.

Problem

Also known as the pain, the problem is the condition that the caller or prospect wants to fix, change or remove.

Prospect

A person regarded as likely to be a customer. Some organisations might define a prospect as someone that has agreed to an appointment. Others might define that person as someone who agrees to receive a proposal or engage in a second call.

“We found the prospect suitable at the first appointment.”

Qualifying

Qualifying is the process of determining whether a caller or prospect is suitable for the services being offered. Qualifying questions can also be used to determine where the caller or prospect is in the buying process.

Question (from a call handler or CSR)

Questions are used extensively by call handlers and customer service representatives to collect information from callers and prospects. in discoveries, they are group as question clusters that contain core and follow up questions. Questions are further defined as open-ended, close-ended questions, and clarifying questions.

Question clusters

Question clusters are groups of questions including a core question and follow up questions.

Rational objection

Objection relating to the company or its representative.

Recommendations

Following an examination and preceding handling objections and answering questions, recommendations are statements made by a professional instructing a prospect to follow a treatment plan. In the medical context, recommendations are typically made by surgeons, doctors or quasi-medical healthcare professionals. Recommendations can be further defined as clinical and administrative, the latter being instructions regarding dates, times and payment.

“After I make my recommendations, I will answer any questions you have about it.”

(Asking for) Referrals

Referrals are leads that call as a result of a customer referral. Asking for referrals is the process of proactively eliciting names and contact information for those leads.

Return on investment (ROI)

A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency of an investment or to compare the efficiency of a number of different investments. To calculate ROI, the benefit (return) of an investment is divided by the cost of the investment; the result is expressed as a percentage or a ratio.

“The organisation got a 400% ROI on their training investment.”

Reverse information confirmation (RIC)

Similar to the information confirmation, the statement made when passing responsibility for the prospect from the defence to the forward. Typically, the reverse information confirmation will contain information that will assist the forward in closing the appointment, by scheduling subsequent appointments and taking any payments. Reverse information confirmations statements typically include the prescribed solution (treatment plan), objections overcome, and timing.

“The surgeon did a good job with his reverse information confirmation by letting the prospect know he was looking forward to seeing her at the surgical appointment.”

Sales Conversation

A sales conversation is the act of engaging in a structured conversation with the intent of gaining a commitment from the caller or prospect. A sales conversation might take place on the phone, in an appointment, or in text-based communication (email, text, chat, letters, etc.). Every organisation defines what a sales conversation is based on the an amount of information exchanged. We define a sales conversation as the successful execution of the three acts of the call or appointment.

“Stefanie had 15 sales conversations with leads on the phone today.”

Sales process

The steps involved in enabling a person to buy something.

Scene

From theatre, a sequence or continuous action in a play, film, opera or book. We use the term scene to sub-divide acts in a sales conversation (e.g. on the telephone or at an appointment).

“The first act of the sales conversation is divided into 3 scenes.”

Smokescreen

An unspoken objection, masked by a statement that sounds plausible. These statements tend to be generalized (e.g. “I want to think about it.”)

Solution

Also known as the gain, the solution is the condition that the caller or prospect wants to experience.

Takeaway statement

A statement designed to communicate detachment from an outcome (e.g. “Our product isn’t right for everyone, and it may not be right for you.”

Traditionalists

People born before 1946.

Testing

In a medical context, a set of examination protocols designed to gain qualification information from a prospect, typically carried out by a healthcare technician or quasi-medical professional. Testing can happen in non-medical contexts as well (e.g. dental, legal, accountancy). A good testing protocol involves explaining the nature of each test, clarifying what the test intents to measure, how the test will feel, and how it’s unique or different from the standard of care.

“Testing typically takes 20 minutes.”

Timing

Timing is related to the next step in the buying process (e.g. first appointment, surgical appointment)

Third-party story

An anecdote about a unidentified or composite person that a customer service representative or call handler shares with a caller or prospect with the intention to illustrate a comparable situation.

Transaction

A transactions when a product or service is purchased from the organisation by a customer. A transaction may be a partial (deposit) or full payment.

“The customer asked if he could finance the transaction.”

Trial close

A close-ended question designed to elicit an agreement response (e.g. “This sounds like the best option, would you agree?”)

Unconscious incompetence – novices

In stages of learning, the first phase of learning where one doesn’t know what one doesn’t know.

Unconscious competence – master

In stages of learning, the first phase of learning where one doesn’t know what one knows.

Up system

A method for determining the order of people answering calls from callers in a call handling team. In the up system, each call handler has responsibility for answering calls first on a given day (e.g. Monday), assuming they are not busy on another call or absent from their post. On the following day (e.g. Tuesday), another call handler takes the responsibility for being ‘up’, in rotation. The previous ‘up’ call handler moves in position to the bottom of the line, and the rota changes daily.

“Kimberly focused on follow up calls on Tuesday because she was ‘up’ on Monday”

Warm up conversation

Following a greeting and preceding an intent statement, engaging in light conversation with a prospect about matters unrelated to business (e.g. family, occupation, recreation, location) with the intention of putting them at ease, relieving tension, and establishing rapport.

“Felipe engaged the prospect in a warm up conversation.”

Wants

Something desired, demanded or required to satisfy an emotional deficit.