Lead Generation Glossary: Sales Operations

The unwritten rules of the road. Every sales team is different, but many follow shared industry terminology and best practices. These are the important key industry rules and shared best practices of lead, opportunity, and post-sale operations.


A lead is a contact at a company that has not quite hit the standards of an opportunity. The goal is that the company would hopefully become a client. These leads are gathered through a variety of methods, including advertising, mailing, trade shows, or other efforts by a marketing team. The contact would commonly be known as BANT (budget, authority, need and timeline).

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

A sales qualified lead (SQL) is a lead that passes the specific qualification to be handed off to the sales team. Sales qualified leads are often qualified by the sales development rep (SDR) in that they ask qualified questions, such as company size and urgency to buy. SQLs are often preceded by marketing to qualified leads, which typically have a lesser criteria. SQLs are often a step in most sales funnels.

Market Share

Market share is a metric used to understand how much revenue a company achieved compared to its direct competitors. It is calculated by taking the amount of revenue divided by the total amount for the industry. So if a company has a $100 Million annual recurring revenue (ARR) and the total industry’s is at $10 Billion, then the company has a 1% market share.

Unqualified Lead

An unqualified lead is a lead that does not meet the qualification requirements of a sales organization. An example would be a student researching for more information for a class. Other examples include companies with very small budgets and are located in regions that are unable to be serviced, like overseas or with geographic limitations. A sales development rep (SDR) typically reviews every inbound lead to see if the lead is qualified to meet with one of their account executives. The goal being to not waste any of an account executives time with an unqualified lead that probably won’t lead to a sale.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is a type of lead that has passed the qualifications of the marketing department. While companies set different qualifications for marketing leads, the qualifications are typically based on engagement. For example, a contact may become a marketing qualified lead if they have clicked on a newsletter or visited a specific page on the website. They have expressed a desired interest in a company’s goods or services. A MQL is often preceded by a sales qualified lead which has a stricter qualification guideline.

Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR)

Monthly recurring revenue (MRR) is the most important number that tech investors care about. It represents the amount of revenue that repeats on a monthly basis. It can be used to extrapolate the run rate or financial performance, aka the annual recurring revenue, or revenue that comes in every year from a contract.


An opportunity is defined as a lead that is qualified and satisfies all the requirements in advance (BANT). This represents the segment of leads that is most qualified to convert into paying customers. Opportunities can have different stages within the opportunity lifetime, but the opportunity usually has a high chance of becoming a client if the salesperson can solve one of their pain points and shows them how valuable the product or service will be for them.


A pipeline is a phrase that represents the amount of leads and opportunities for a given company. Companies often refer to their pipeline as a sales funnel. A sales pipeline consists of many stages that start with new leads and end with closed won deals. The purpose of sales development is to increase a company’s pipeline and accelerate deals through their respective stages.


Qualification is the process of identifying whether or not a lead is worth a sales reps time. Qualification can happen during the list building process. For example, if you know that you can only sell to hospitals with more than 10,000 beds, it is more efficient to build out the lists of qualified hospitals then to manually review them one by one after you’ve set meetings with them. Alternatively, qualifications can happen after the lead has been created. For example, a qualification question could be, “Are you interested in redesigning your website in the next year?”

Qualified Lead

A qualified lead is a lead that satisfies all the requirements of qualification. This is identified by asking the lead qualification questions.