What’s a SAL? – Simplifying Your Lead Lifecycle Language

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a man wearing a suit holding a signboard with the sentence do you speak english? written on it


Does Sales and Marketing speak the same language when it comes to the lead lifecycle? Building alignment is tough enough—you don’t need language to become a barrier.

But how do you develop a language that both organizations can leverage? This article outlines a few options to consider to better align your Sales and Marketing teams.

The Funnel Challenge

Most companies have some version of a funnel that helps measure the flow of leads through the system. Marketing loves to use fancy acronyms like MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead), TAL (Telprospecting Accepted Lead), SAL (Sales Accepted Lead), and others when describing these stages. After all, this standard business language is used for benchmarketing and for executive communications.


Those words are Greek to the Sales team that understands functional terms like “Open,” “Attempting Contact,” and others.

Bridge the Language Gap

Below are a couple of approaches to using consistent language within your organization when defining service level agreements, stage definitions and other lead lifecycle strategies. Whichever option you choose, be consistent and overcommunicate to the Sales reps.

A good best practice is to create a one-page funnel slide similar to this and distribute a laminated version to all your reps. Then leverage this language within your systems and reports (Example: SF.com Lead Status).

Method 1 – The Combined Approach (Recommended)

This method involves using both marketing terminology and traditional sales language. Sales and Marketing can see each other’s language consistently until both are speaking the same language.

  • Open (MQL)
  • Attempting Contact (TAL)
  • Meeting Pending (SAL)

Method 2 – Streamlined Sales Approach (Recommended: A close 2nd)

When in doubt, choose the option that is easiest for Sales to understand. Here, use descriptive copy like what is found standard in SF.com to simplify things for Sales. The drawback of this method is Sales reps do not make a connection to the marketing language. This would be the second recommendation.

Additionally, create a lookup field like Stage that is calculated based on the below values (Example: Open = MQL). This second field provides reporting flexibility for using business language when reporting results to management.

  • Open
  • Attempting Contact
  • Meeting Pending

Option 3 – The Marketing Approach

Here, marketing language wins out where organizations standardize on a single set of terminology that reflects business terminology. This language is ideal for performing funnel analysis.

The big drawback of this model is it requires additional training for the Sales team to break existing habits. It’s like going to Spain from the US and expecting to learn the language overnight. This approach can work with organizations with smaller Sales teams or companies closely aligned with marketing terminologies.

  • MQL
  • TAL
  • SAL


  • Marketing Qualified
  • Tele Accepted
  • Sales Accepted

To summarize, consistency is key. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what you call the stages, just be consistent and used the business language as a guideline for your internal language.

Resources: See other Lead Lifecycle models.


Josh Verrill

Services: Strategy, Assessment, Ongoing Services

“RevEngine Marketing has helped Dyn reach amazing results. Within 60 days, REM helped Dyn establish repeatable best practices to improve marketing efficiencies over 50%. That enabled our business owners to focus on the business, not on our system.
With REM as our long term partner, we’ve seen marketing’s contribution revenue double over the past year. REM has helped us achieve success with everything from managing the lead lifecycle to gaining visibility into marketing effectiveness.”


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