Assess yourself! Lead generation edition, Part 3

This post is part of a three-part series about assessing your lead generation. Check out the other posts in the series!

  • Assess yourself! Lead generation series:
  • Part 3 (You are here)
  • Part 2
  • Part 1

You’ve made it to the final part in our lead generation self-assessment series. High five!

To recap, we’re defining lead generation as the strategic application of a deep understanding of your customer that allows you to show up in the right place, at the right time with a welcome solution to a pressing need.

Effective lead generation is a system you have control over, with outcomes that become increasingly predictable and repeatable over time.

Based on this definition, the highest level areas we need to assess are:

  • Your understanding of your customer
  • Your ability to apply that understanding…

    • …to show up in the right place, at the right time
    • …to bring a welcome solution to a pressing need
  • Your ability to systematize your application of that understanding to bring predictable and repeatable results

In our last post, we helped you assess your ability to apply a deep understanding of your customers to show up in the right place, at the right time with a welcome solution to a pressing need. Now we’re ready to look at the predictability and repeatability of your lead generation system.

Assessing the sustainability of your lead generation system

When talking about facilitating strong customer relationships, there is nothing like human interaction. Automation is scalable, but it isn’t relational. Or is it?

“The world’s top chess player isn’t a human or a computer, it’s a ‘centaur’ — a hybrid chess-playing team composed of a human and a computer.” —Monique Clement

1997 was the first time a world chess champion (Garry Kasparov) was defeated by a computer. Since that time, a new field of chess competition has emerged: Centaur Chess—chess played by humans with the aid of computers.

What is remarkable is that while chess computers can easily defeat the very best humans, when computers are used to augment those same humans, the human + computer combination will win every time.

Kasparov put it this way:

“Weak human + machine + better process was superior to a strong computer alone and, more remarkable, superior to a strong human + machine + inferior process.”

We can use this same principle to make your lead generation system not only more sustainable and scalable, but more effective.

A sustainable lead generation system that facilitates strong customer relationships:

  • Automates the parts of your system that are the same, whether a human does them or not
  • Automates the parts that a computer can do better than a human
  • Enables highly intelligent, informed human interaction at the highest leverage points where those interactions really matter

But how do you figure out which is which? We’re going to assess that by looking at the phases most lead generation systems have in common.

Understand your potential customers

In this phase, you’re collecting both qualitative and quantitative data. Your team is probably biased toward one or the other (either trusting your gut based on immersion in the market or relying on numbers) but you need both types to build a full picture of who most needs your product and why.

  • Have you identified what you need to know to better understand your customers?
  • Have you identified which of this data can be automatically collected and which needs to be collected by humans?
  • Do you have a system that captures both types of data and allows you to view them in integrated ways?
  • Does your system include regular intervals of reporting and analysis that informs your team’s common understanding of your customer?

Show up in the right place at the right time with a welcome solution to a pressing need

Showing up on the Internet has never been more expensive. Whether you’re using advertising with its obvious out-of-pocket costs and/or some form of content marketing with its less obvious people costs, it’s tempting to try to automate all of it and be done.

But we all know where that goes. People can tell when there’s no actual caring human behind a company’s “presence”. And they respond accordingly, usually by ignoring it.

  • What types of relevant content get the most response/interaction in the places we’re showing up?
  • What types of content are our potential customers sharing with each other in those places?
  • How does that compare to our content and the response we’re getting?
  • What do content-creators need from our system to create content at that level, both from a creative standpoint and a sustainability one?
  • How are we evaluating our content and "bright-spotting" what’s working so we can repeat it?
  • How are we getting the most use out of content that has been successful for us?

Educate leads and provide resources to help them on their path

Once you’ve connected with a potential customer and helped them take the first steps on the path to getting where they want to go, it’s much easier to automate their experience (and you probably should, so everyone has a foundational knowledge of what you want to help them do, be, or experience).

  • How are we getting permission to educate potential customers and help them on their path?
  • What does every new potential customer experience once they’ve started off on the path we’ve created for them?
  • Are the education and resources we’re providing sufficient to getting them to the next phase of their growth?
  • Do we have tools that allow us to see where people tend to abandon the path and why?
  • Where are the highest impact opportunities where human interaction would make a difference?

Qualify leads into prospects

Lead qualification nearly always starts as a manual process, but you will eventually get to a point where you have so many leads that this is unsustainable.

  • How active are we at qualifying leads that express interest in what we’re doing?
  • What questions do we ask ourselves to determine whether a lead is right for the solution we’re offering?
  • Which questions can be answered and evaluated by a computer?
  • Which questions need to be answered and evaluated by a human?
  • Does our system allow us to efficiently view which leads are qualified?
  • How can our system allow us to be smarter about our leads?

Help prospects decide whether to become a customer

Ideally, your sales materials will be geared toward solving your customer’s problem of needing to decide on a solution. This part can be automated to a large extent. But if there are nuanced challenges in a potential customer’s situation and they can’t confidently find the answer, they are likely to drop off and you won’t hear from them again.

Identifying the points where someone is having trouble figuring out the answer for their own situation can help you determine the highest leverage points where a human can help move them forward.

  • How does our system empower potential customers to make the decision that’s right for them, even if that decision is not us?
  • How does our system allow us to discover the highest-leverage points for human interaction?
  • How does our system enhance our human interactions?

Help customers be successful on their path

Helping customers be successful isn’t just about customer’s about identifying their real goals and helping them on the path to getting there.

  • How well does our system help customers reach the bigger goal behind using our product?
  • How does our system help us discover the highest-leverage points for human interaction?
  • How does our system enhance our human interactions?

To sum it up

Looking individually at each part of the system is a lot to dig into. But at the highest level, what we really want to know is:

  • What parts of our system could a computer do the same or better?
  • What parts need intelligent human interaction?
  • How could better automation strengthen those interactions?

Answering these questions is an ongoing process of learning and being curious about the people in front of you and what the data allows you to understand about them. This process is a loop of multiple layers, continually improving as you go.

Further reading

Besides our own research and observations, there are a several resources we’re indebted to for what we know about this stuff. Probably the most impactful is this talk on the Minimum Badass User by Kathy Sierra. She also wrote a book called Badass that is extremely actionable.

The concept of the “centaur human” is from an article by Monique Clement describing the findings of a team of cyber-security researchers at ASU.

I also heard the term bright spotting somewhere else (I think it was in Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath), but I can’t find that referenced anywhere. Basically the concept is about finding what is really working and putting your system’s resources and energy into that, rather than focusing on fixing what’s broken.

That’s it for our lead generation self-assessment series! In the next month or so, we’ll be starting a new series on self-assessing your customer referrals. In the meantime, if you have questions about any of these concepts or if you’re considering a lead generation assessment, shoot me an email at I’d love to help. :)

If you haven’t yet, check out Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

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