Foundational to even the most basic understanding of the sales process is the ability to clearly distinguish the key players to which our efforts are directed: Suspects, Prospects and Customers. This is especially vital because those efforts should follow different strategies based on the target. While we can all comfortably define a customer, the distinction between suspects and prospects isn’t always as apparent. Not to be confused with a prospect, a suspect is an individual identified based a potential need for your product—usually procured from list purchases, trade events, or pulled from various free online and offline sources. In order for a suspect to become a prospect, marketing must raise awareness of your product or service. When awareness becomes demand and your suspect demonstrates interest, you should then consider he/she to be pre-qualified prospect. Move them into your sales pipeline!