Delivering PPP/MSLP and Being a Resource When you Don’t

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Have you ever built a plane while it was flying? It doesn’t matter whether you are a PPP Lender, an MSLP Lender, both or neither, that’s exactly what all of you are doing right now. There is are no blueprints for a situation like this, but there are well-refined techniques to apply.

Early Learnings from PPP

While the government and press beat up on banks – particularly large banks—for not getting the money out fast enough they conveniently leave out the fact that program details are still fuzzy at best and that many of you built an infrastructure to deliver loans at enormous scale in days, a feat that would have taken many up to a year. MSLP is likely to be a little more thought out since it’s coming from the Fed, but we’ll see soon enough.  Banks, for the most part, have acted heroically and continue to move mountains with less than favorable government guidance.

Interestingly, in our work to support these lenders, a few unique best practices are beginning to emerge in the process that even non-government program lenders can learn from.

  1. Understand Your Own Process and Communicate it Clearly – This is tough when the rulemaker is jacking you around, but it’s important to streamline, simplify and develop messaging around the effort that is crystal clear and remarkably consistent.
  2. Listen & Empathize – They’re on fire, emotional and desperate. Patience, active listening skills and empathy are critical even if that means the other blinking red lights on your phone will have to wait a minute or two longer. And your employees are going to get the hell beaten out of them. Be tough. Have a drink after work. And then go to war the next day. This is a higher calling.
  3. Staff Appropriately – You might need to re-allocate some employees in other functional areas to help with the surge in demand. We’ve seen Bank Tellers, IT help desks and Administrative Assistants be ‘drafted’ into the battle. And that’s not a bad idea.
  4. Set Reliable Expectations – No matter how much they are hurting or angry, be honest about your process requirements and the timing of funds delivery. It’s not going to be what most want to hear, but it’s the only approach to take.
  5. Ask Key Additional Questions – This is a little thing with big benefits. Most of you make nothing on these loans. But if you are crafty enough to ask “Is there any other financial matter in your business we can help with right now?” or “Interested in one or two ideas to help to preserve cash or improve cash flow?” Early results are in on this and the lenders doing it well are cross selling like mad and building fertile databases for when we emerge on the other side of this. And for those of you freaking out about ‘selling to them in a time of pain’—STOP. These banks are legitimately offering ideas that help solve additional problems. Wait, shouldn’t that be what we do all the time?
  6. Follow Up – You just talked to more of your customer/prospect base in one short window than you ever will. Check in on them. Build relationships. If you were there for them when they needed help the most, they’ll be there for you when the time is right. This is when your ‘relationship-driven’ value proposition is earned.

The Non-Government Program Lender

If PPP/MSLP Lenders become too preoccupied with execution of emergency programs, who helps the company not in need of those programs? Just because they don’t need access to that capital doesn’t mean they don’t need access to any capital. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.  Just look at the recent activity into corporate bonds. Company of all sizes and strength need access to liquidity and need new ideas more than ever before. For example, the middle market company flush with cash that wouldn’t even return your phone call for the last two years might be open to that sale/leaseback.

Additionally, who said PPP/MSLP is all the capital they’ll need to get through this mess. The primary purpose of those programs is to retain payroll levels and help companies achieve the ‘going concern’ status. They’ll still need equipment and technology funding to fuel changing business models and to fill the likely void of tighter underwriting standards that await.

Whether you are an independent or division of a bank not centered around government programs, you can be an important capital resource as mentioned above, but you can also help them to plan for the road ahead. Many of these companies may be waiting for some return to functioning society before enacting a plan to get through the U, but the plans themselves are forming now. And you can help be the strategic, relationship-driven partner all your marketing stuff says you are. So, get your structuring hat on and find your inner consultant and get to work. They need you.

Don’t just wait this out

 “Until the world begins to find firm footing, we’re just playing the role of workout lenders right now.” It’s always important to protect the portfolio. But if that’s all you’re doing you might be missing out on bringing more value to your customers when they need you the most and building a healthier sales effort that refuses to settle for stagnation.

If you ever want to chat through the marketing implications of delivering value to your customers, whether you offer PPP/MSLP or not, let’s talk.

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