A Brief Guide to CRM-Related Acronyms

Woman Confused By CRM Acronyms

Raise your hand if the following has ever happened to you: You’re in a meeting at a new company. A lot of Three Letter Acronyms (TLAs) are being thrown around.

You don’t know what some of them mean. You don’t want to appear foolish, so you pretend to understand each abbreviation while discretely jotting down as many of them as you can on your notepad. As soon as the meeting is over, you rush to your computer or you pick up your smartphone and search for definitions of the terms you just heard.

Don’t worry, we’ve all experienced acronym confusion at some point. The worlds of CRM and inbound marketing are brimming with jargon and acronyms. To help you catch up we’ve created a quick guide that will make you better prepared for a TLA-rich environment.

What Does It All Mean?

Here are some common acronyms you’ll see and hear that relate to marketing, leads, prospects, management, reporting, and more.

CRM – Customer Relationship Management

Let’s start with the obvious one, CRM (Customer Relationship Management). The press sometimes butchers this one by calling it “Customer Relations Management.” CRM also happens to be the ticker symbol for salesforce.com, inc.

CRM is a multi-purpose acronym. On the one hand, there is CRM software such as Salesforce, HubSpot, and Zoho. The classic areas of CRM functionality are sales, marketing, and customer service.

On the other hand, the abbreviation ‘CRM’ defines a strategy that businesses use to improve customer relationships. The desired result of this strategy is often to increase revenue and lower costs.

The following is a group of CRM-related acronyms we have assembled.


PRM is a spinoff of the CRM acronym. PRM is variously used for Partner Relationship Management, Physician Relationship Management, and Patient Relationship Management.

ABM – Account-Based Marketing

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is an alternative B2B strategy that concentrates sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts within a market and utilizes personalized campaigns designed to resonate with each specific account.

Think scalpel instead of a shotgun — that’s ABM in a nutshell.

MQL – Marketing Qualified Lead

Marketing Qualified Leads are people who have shown signs of interest in buying. They’ve taken an initial step to engage with your business beyond a website visit or social media view. An MQL is primed to receive additional communication.

Marketing Qualified Leads (hopefully) turn into Sales Qualified Leads, which then turn into customers.

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SAL – Sales Accepted Lead

Sales Accepted Leads are the bridge between Marketing Qualified Leads and Sales Qualified Leads. A SAL is a lead that the sales team has agreed to pursue, but has not yet spoken with to determine if they are a qualified prospect.

If a SAL, once contacted, indicates buying interest, they will likely be converted into a Sales Qualified Lead.

SQL – Sales Qualified Lead

A Sales Qualified Lead is a prospective customer that has been researched and vetted by an organization’s marketing and sales teams. The lead has been deemed ready for the next stage in the sales process. In many cases, an opportunity is created in the CRM system for an SQL.

Every organization has a slightly different process and set of criteria for moving an MQL to a SAL — and then to an SQL.

SDR – Sales Development Representative

Previously known as “inside sales reps”, Sales Development Representatives focus primarily on outbound prospecting. They may use tools like ZoomInfo and Outreach. Sales development reps aren’t responsible for closing business. Rather, SDRs focus on moving leads through the pipeline.

BDR – Business Development Representative

Business Development Representatives (BDRs) can overlap with SDRs. In some companies, the two are synonymous. However, other companies differentiate BDRs and SDRs by the type of leads & relationships they handle.

BDRs are sometimes responsible for the bigger picture, including strategic relationships and partner development.

CRO – Chief Revenue Officer

The Chief Revenue Officer role is a relatively new TLA that was born in Silicon Valley. Common in tech companies, a CRO has ultimate responsibility for driving revenue growth by leveraging and aligning all revenue-generating departments. This includes marketing, sales, and customer experience/success.

RSM – Regional Sales Manager

A Regional Sales Manager is responsible for the sale of a business’s products or services in a specified region or geographical area.

In many organizations, field salespeople report to an RSM.

KPI – Key Performance Indicators

Key Performance Indicators are measurable values that demonstrate how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives. Organizations use KPIs at multiple levels to evaluate their success in reaching targets.

Examples of KPIs include:

  • Return on Investment
  • Cost of Goods Sold
  • Customer Lifetime Value
  • Employee Turnover Rate
  • Sales by Region

Unsurprisingly, many KPIs are also three-letter acronyms. If you’re in charge of monitoring and/or organizing your company’s KPI reports, you really need to know all the acronyms.

CTA – Call to Action

A Call to Action is any text, image, video, or other media designed to get an immediate response from the person reading or hearing it. CTAs are used extensively as part of digital marketing strategies to generate leads and sales.

Incidentally, the plural of call to action is “calls to action.”

Wrapping up

We hope this article about CRM-related acronyms helps you to take in more information in your next meeting or contribute more to your next conversation.

If you’re in the process of researching CRM vendors or buying software for your organization, you’ll better understand the industry jargon that sometimes gets thrown around.

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