The issue with sales is often vocabulary

The sales process has lots of different handoffs in terms of responsibility for the prospect. Every time you do another handoff, there’s a chance that someone is going to drop the ball. (Sad but true.)

One of the most fraught handoffs in sales is between SDR (sales development rep) and sales execution. It’s often a tire fire. We think about it wrong, though.

We often think this particular handoff is about SQL, or sales-qualified leads. (Could also say MQL for marketing-qualified lead.) But it’s more than that.

The issue is vocabulary

The issue in business is often vocabulary.

Think of it like this: the people at the top of any given organization have much different responsibilities and accountabilities than people further down the hierarchy. Usually their bonuses and incentive packages are tied to revenue and growth; that’s not necessarily the case 5-6 tiers below them. As a result, the top people use vocabulary and acronyms (“CAGR”) around what matters to them. That doesn’t mean it matters to people below their level, or even that someone closer to the end user knows what “CAGR” means.

The same type of situation plays out with sales development and sales execution. Even though they’re both within the umbrella of “sales,” and may even have similar reporting structures, SDR and sales execution tend to use entirely different vocabulary. SDR uses different branding and messaging within qualification calls, but the terms become different in face-to-face/inside sales work being done by the execution team.

This creates an uneven experience for the prospect. They’re being talked to and approached (“messaged”) one way and then, once they’re deemed to be more qualified and switch over to the execution team, everything might change. The inconsistency of experience could drive them out of the funnel. This is actually more common than we think.

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How do we solve this problem?

We better align sales as a cohesive team, as opposed to a series of silos. While I understand the skills of qualifying a lead and closing a lead are different, they can’t be managed differently and use different terminology. The goal of the entire department should be closing sales and generating revenue. You may have a specific part that you work on, but if the overall goal is the same, the messaging/language/vocabulary needs to be the same too.

Sales execution needs to listen to SDR phone calls and SDR needs to participate in meetings and calls with the prospect. Do this regularly and your vocabulary, your stories and your emphasis will align automatically.

Align the silos. Keep the experience better for the prospect. You want him/her to become a customer, right?

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