Your Company Lexicon

Look at the word Torta. It’s the same word where ever you might wander but in Mexico, you’ll get a sandwich and most other countries you’ll get a slice of cake. Both might be tasty but they are not the same. Does everyone in your company define a Lead the same? Here’s where your company lexicon can remove ambiguity for all.

Company Lexicon

Why create a Business Lexicon?

Let’s face it, there are a lot of terms in any business that have multiple definitions. The correct definition often depends on the context but what happens when people are coming from different contexts? It’s becoming more common, which is good, that people in multiple departments interact with one and other while doing business. Where difficulties lie is the language barriers that occur due to ambiguities and variation of definition. Look at the word Torta. It’s the same word where ever you might wander but in Mexico you’ll get a sandwich and most other countries you’ll cake a slice of cake. Both might be tasty but they are not the same.

Two of the most commonly confused terms

In our experience, Lead and Customer are the most often confused words. Each business function might have its own definition and there can be multiple definitions within a single department. It’s clearly a ripe topic given there are over three million Google results for “what is a lead” and over seven million for “what is a customer”. More often than not a single word does to accurately describe a business term. For instance, you might break Lead into:

  • Prospect: Someone who visits your site or calls but has not been qualified as a potential buyer
  • Marketing Lead: You have some demographic and/or psychographic data but just because the Marketing Lead fits the profile does not make a qualified Sales Lead.
  • Sales Lead: The Sales person is provided demographic and/or psychographic data, a lead score around the probability of purchase, product interests, etc.

You might say a customer is a customer. Wrong. Here are some examples:

  • Sales people are paid for three years after a customer buys your product or service.
  • Support is a paid annual agreement so a customer is one who has paid support.
  • Management thinks a customer is anyone that has bought and will buy again from the company otherwise it is now an endangered or lost customer.

When Management, Sales, and Support are talking, are they using the same term? Likely not. To alleviate the confusion name them what they are, a Sold Customer and a Support Customer. Separate terms will also make your performance metrics more understandable.

Benefits of a Business Lexicon

  • Clarity of business concepts and terminology for everyone in your organization
  • Maximize business discussions by reducing confusion
  • Clarify business and technology project expectations and specifications
  • Improve alignment between the business and technology organizations

How do you start your Business Lexicon?

  1. Start by picking a place to store your glossary. Make it accessible to everyone in the company. Common tools are a document available to everyone: Google Doc, MS Word or a wiki. Remember, you can move it later. The important thing is to start.
  2. Take bite-sized chunks. Trying to create a complete a company lexicon quickly is a lot to take on and many terms can be missed. A few methods to try are:
    • review your company dashboards, define the terms and fields that are used to make decisions,
    • Define terms during meetings and projects and questions arise,
    • have each department document their most commonly used terms or areas of confusion then assign someone to get all parties to agree on language.

You may be tempted to create multiple definitions for the same term depending on context or department. Similar to a dictionary. Do NOT do this.


Check out Hubspot’s article “Lifecycle stages: the language of marketing

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