About the interviewee
Bruce Specter, Principal, 3rd Rock Communications. With over 25 years of successful channel and business development experience from technology to financial services, Bruce is best described as a world class connector. This Unique Value Proposition (UVP) driven by his tireless involvement with both civic and business organizations drives his giver’s gain approach to relationship management. Bruce is also the creator and key driver behind The Renossance Project, a private sector-driven economic development initiative to bridge the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) with a decayed part of downtown Reno.
Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).
3rd Rock Communications was formalized in 2008 as a public relations/partnership development collective in Reno, NV initially specializing in client relations/retention for the financial and medical markets. The company’s current focus is on local companies that span legal, financial services, healthcare, real estate and economic development.
Tell us about why it is important for you to establish a relationship with your potential clients.
Business IS Personal. Why do you continue to use service providers in your company or home life? There has been a loyalty developed based on a bond created over a period of time where you received a consistently positive client experience. I would venture to say that out of these established service relationships, some friendships were formed. Establishing a relationship by finding and expanding on commonalities helps bring down the proverbial resistance walls and puts you in a light of greater value.
What do you do to establish relationship with the key players?
I never talk business on the first meeting if at all possible, and certainly don’t bore them with my story. The initial meeting is fact finding, uncovering those commonalities and deciding whether or not there is a fit. Having travelled extensively and having a sometimes daunting & self-deprecating sense of humor, I tend to make people feel at ease rather quickly. If I am to engage with a client, I try to feel what they feel, where their pain points are. Not until after this do I start, from a more Gestalt approach, provide similar experiences that have proved beneficial for the client based on services we provide.
Again, not every prospect meeting ends in a fit. The worst case for me, I make another connection!
What sales techniques have you found as ineffective in developing relationships, which ones work, and why?
First rule of sales: Telling Ain’t Selling! Jumping right in with a solution without knowing the problem to me is an immediate conversation killer (forget about relationship). That said, there are those that prosper in the shallow end of the pond, but our team will never be found there.
Human beings want to be listened to. True empathy is an art, especially if you can develop some semblance of connection. Really listening, maintaining eye contact and proper body language is what personally keeps me engaged with someone, whether in conversation or presentation. In addition, getting people out of their office. To me, a desk is like an offensive or defensive mechanism. I have broken down more walls by getting outside those walls into a social environment. Certainly a working relationship should be profitable and productive. No one said it can’t be fun as well.
We are so much more than what we do. Get to know that side of your client or alliance partner and you’ll start building lifelong relationships!