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How Categorizing Suspects, Prospects and Customers Can Unlock ABM’s Full Potential

How Categorizing Suspects, Prospects and Customers Can Unlock ABM’s Full Potential

  • Posted by: Eric Rabinowitz
Account-Based Marketing's Full Potential - ABM / CRM

By Erik Frantzen, President, Nurture Marketing

Some of your company’s most valuable assets are slipping through your fingers ‒ namely, data about your clients, past, present, and hopefully, future.

Our research shows that 40% of your contact database deteriorates each year. Dun & Bradstreet says a company’s contact database can lose 8% of its accuracy ‒ each month.

Leveraging the power of high-value customer assets is the job of everyone in your organization, including Marketing, Sales, Delivery – i.e., the experts who actually provide and implement the solutions that your company offers – and other teams.

But many Sales and Marketing teams have never been more divided.

Over the last decade, the ways to reach entirely new prospects as well as existing or prior customers have multiplied through digital and social marketing, paid advertising, and sponsorship initiatives. However, Sales could care less about impressions, paid clicks, or even registrants for webinars and other virtual or in-person events. They need to connect directly with stakeholders by having the right information from Marketing and Business Development teams with the right level of contact to close deals with the right people.

Smart organizations are bridging that gap with Account-Based Marketing (ABM), which unlocks the data and intelligence about existing or similar customers to drive outreach that taps into their current and future needs. Forbes defines Account-Based Marketing as a strategic approach based on account awareness that addresses each prospect as a market of one.

ABM is only as strong as your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) architecture, so you may need to rethink how you categorize contacts and accounts within it. One way to filter that database is to imagine cloning your best clients, past and present. What factors made them so great? What attributes would you like to see in your next client? That knowledge could help you categorize your targets moving forward.

No matter how you prioritize those best-client qualities, overall you want to have relationships with your suspects, your prospects, and your customers. But what are the specific differences between each group, and how should you modify your tactics and messaging to best reach each segment?


Suspects typically have no pre-existing relationship with you or your company. Most likely, they haven’t even heard of you. More than for any other segment of your audience, your tactics need to focus on educating them about your product/service, building rapport, and demonstrating credibility. Remember: Suspects don’t know you, so they have no reason to believe that you can help them until you show them that you can. This information has to be modeled in a way that can turn them into actionable prospects and hopefully customers.


Prospects are “raised hands” – they’ve demonstrated in some way that they might be interested in becoming your customer. They might be in the information-gathering stage or the evaluation stage. Prospects want tools to help them in their decision-making process, so your tactics should focus on educating them in-depth on how your product/service works, and how you are different from your competitors. Older information about prospects containing valuable insights can be updated effectively through database refresh.


Customers want, simply, to be treated like customers. They want information that helps them do their jobs and information that validates their investments. They want to feel like they made a good decision to become your customer. Make sure you give them support mapped to their products and their processes – not your own.

Consistently updating your contact database helps maintain its value. Categorizing the prized contacts within builds on that value by making sure that Sales has the right intelligence right when they’re ready to approach targets about their unique needs. If knowledge is power, categorization only makes your outreach stronger.

This is the latest in a series of articles by Nurture Marketing to help you identify, create, and grow winning one-to-one connections with customers.

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