A quick way to uncover people’s priorities, so you can impress/help them

19th January 2016

Here’s a great exercise for the New Year. It helps you have very important conversations with important people – customers, colleagues, prospects, introducers… anyone who’s important to you.

It is a three-stage conversation, designed to find what’s most important to them, and therefore how you can best help them.

It’s what I call my 3Hs:

  • Hot priority. After the initial chit-chat stuff to start your conversation – ‘How was Christmas?’ and the like – ask what their priorities are for this year. Find what they’re looking to achieve, why it’s so important to them, when they want to achieve it, what obstacles might slow them down and how they plan to overcome them, and so on
  • How help? Then, ask the question “how can I best help you with these priorities?” This is a great question to ask, and will be well received. After all, their priorities are front-of-mind because they’ve been discussing them with you for the past few minutes. Their most likely responses are:

You can help by doing X” – in which case, you say “Great. Please can you tell me more about that?”; or
I don’t know” – in which case, you use the third H, which is…

  • How about? You now proactively suggest ways you can help them – ‘How about I help you by doing X?’ Clearly, offering to help with their priorities can only reflect well on you. And impressing bosses, customers, introducers etc is always a good idea!

A great format, yes? In fact, the only concern people have told me is ‘what if I can’t think of a “How about example” straight away?’

If that happens, simply say “How about this? I’ll go to my office, and look at similar projects we’ve worked on. I’ll then get back in touch, and share relevant examples with you. Would you find that helpful?”

There are two main reasons I like the 3Hs:

  • It almost always leads to a very positive outcome. They either choose you to help them with their priorities, or thank you for showing the interest; and
  • It absolutely never leads to a negative one. This 3Hs approach won’t make things worse for you. After all, you aren’t pushing yourself onto them. You’re asking what’s important, and asking how they think you can best help

Action Point

I guess the action this week is pretty simple:

  • identify who are the most important 2-3 people to you and then
  • for each, consider whether they would welcome a 3Hs conversation with you

I imagine all of them would. So, get the meetings in the diary, and away you go…

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