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International Dictionary of Sales Bull$#it

May 11, 2009


Over the years, sales has developed its own unique language / flavor of corporate verbal diarrhea. This has served two primary purposes: to make business school graduates feel important while selling industrial powder coatings and to humanize some rather inhumane tasks such as soliciting cash from strangers. For those of you who interact with sales people, whether they be co-workers, suppliers or loved ones, here’s the definitive guide to knowing an RFP from your USP:

  • Business Development – a polite term introduced by the “American Society of Door-to-Door Salesmen” to rebrand their public image after a miss-sold encyclopedia was attributed to the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident.
  • Commission – a bizarre payment made to sales people for performing ordinary administrative tasks such as placing phone calls and responding to work related emails in a timely fashion.
  • Cold Calling – the practice of phoning strangers with the explicit purpose of soliciting cash for products they may or may not need. A thriving business has sprung up in recent years outsourcing this type of work to federal penitentiaries and college students.
  • Field Sales – derived from the WWII term “field operations”, to conduct business transactions in a hostile environment such as a client’s workplace or a Dunkin Donuts coffee shop; officially anywhere outside the pajama-clad comfort of the home office.
  • Marketing – an avant-garde term first coined by Doc. Brown in “Back to the Future II” after observing futuristic business practices in 2015 such as exciting customers. Has yet to find any real acceptance in contemporary sale culture.
  • On Target Earnings (OTE) – a complex calculation developed by NASA in the 1960’s to determine the annual income of a sales professional in the unlikely event that they hit their sales quota. It is a purely theoretical computation and has yet to be observed outside of a controlled laboratory environment.
  • Prospect – a congenial term for someone who expresses interest in potentially purchasing a product or service. Interest can be anything from signing up for a product demonstration to accidently sneezing on a sales representative at a conference.
  • Pipeline – A generally, fictitious document that details potential future business deals. Just like global warming, the further a sales pipeline projects into the future, the more it looks like a biblical prophesy.
  • Puppy Dog Close – derived from the pet shop practice of letting a client take a dog / product home for the weekend on the pretense that they can bring it back if “it doesn’t all just go fine”… also works with billion dollar arms contracts.
  • Quota – the magic number that nags at the back of every salesman’s psyche by totaling up exactly how many dollars they are expected to generate each year for their employer.
  • Request for Proposal (RFP) – a beauty pageant type process for selecting a vendor where salesmen compete in series of elimination rounds such as karaoke, poetry recital and mud wrestling to find the most qualified supplier.
  • Relationship Selling – a proven strategy that capitalizes on the correlation identified by researchers at Wharton Business School between a fuller cleavage and a more robust sales pipeline. The study coincided with the 1993 reintroduction of the Wonderbra in North America.
  • Spin Selling – a highly effective sales system developed by New York crack dealers in the 1980’s based on outcome-driven questions. “If I can show you a way to get happier than you ever thought possible for only $50, is that something that you’d be interested in?”
  • Unique Selling Point (USP) – the question that keeps sale people up at night the world over: “why would anyone want to buy this crap?” It is meant more as a rhetorical exercise in contemplative thinking rather than a practical business tool.
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  1. Buy-IT

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