As you start planning how to manage this new challenge, I suggested you consider the following three key elements:
MANAGE THE PROCESS
- Clearly identify what steps you took to help clients with the PPP Funding Application Process and consider whether you can provide similar assistance with the PPP Loan Forgiveness Process.
- Reconfirm your delight/gratitude that your clients gained funding from the original PPP Funding Application Process and simply highlight some key learnings and challenges with the next stage. Reconfirm your willingness to continue offering assistance and to be accessible throughout the process, but simply explain the difference in direct support that may be available.
- It is important to manage client expectations NOW. Loan Forgiveness is understandably a lot different and more complicated than Loan Approval – as all lenders expect to be repaid when they provide a loan. It is reasonable to expect that more approval considerations are required to forgive a loan.
- To have a loan “forgiven” is a huge incentive for any business to put in additional effort to complete the application. You can compare it to completing a tax return when a business owner is expecting a refund or to reduce their tax bill.
- Continue to accept responsibility for your process and your actions. Don’t blame the government. Business owners will expect the Bank to offer similar assistance. This is still a loan. Just remind them though that even for regular bank loans, any form of loan forgiveness or write off involves extensive effort and cooperation from the client.
- Consider partnering with local accounting/advisory firms to assist with the process.
- Offer webinars and reinforce this message/expectation.
- Translate (transpose) the government guidelines into a “simple” worksheet or online tool/calculator for your client to complete. Make sure the tool displays your Bank brand so the client can identify the effort you have specifically made.
- Commercial Managers should also individually arrange Q&A conference calls (or webinars) for their portfolio of clients. Address multiple inquiries with one call/webinar.
LEVERAGE THE PROCESS
Before considering how you can leverage the PPP Loan Forgiveness Process to further grow your clients (and your Bank), it is important to confirm the following:
- Who you would like to ideally approach for additional funding assistance/refinance (beyond PPP) and would the Bank support funding?
- Would you like referrals to other businesses who have yet to receive a PPP loan?
- Do you have the capacity to help non-PPP clients (ie. PPP clients of other banks)?
- Once you confirm the above then consider adding “referral” and “other business” messages to all communications (phone, email, mail, social media, marketing collateral).
- Consider inviting non-clients (targets) to webinars and/or include them on communications.
- Schedule (or commit to) follow up meetings at a later date to discuss client’s/prospect’s broader banking needs.
- Challenge any limiting beliefs that clients are not interested in broader solutions now. These clients are extremely appreciative of the PPP support, which will be significantly enhanced when (if) the loan is forgiven. They will certainly be receptive to another meeting with you to explore their strategies for recovery/growth and to your funding/banking solutions.
- Businesses are realizing more and more the value of a strong, reliable finance partner. Remind them of your commitment and willingness to be their finance partner and to help them achieve (or return to) long term prosperity.
- Consider how you will formally communicate to any loan forgiveness applicants that are not (fully) approved and what alternative arrangements you will/can offer.
- Whilst it is unfortunate (and may reflect upon you and commitments you may have previously made), it is important to again remind them of the complexities of loan forgiveness approvals (see “Manage the Process” comments above).
- Reconfirm incredibly cheap interest rate for the PPP Loan and the affordable repayment terms.
- Confirm that you will monitor PPP repayments closely and will consider refinancing the loan for a longer term (if feasible).
- Consider other funding/banking concessions you can offer for existing (and other) loans that may assist them with financing PPP commitments.
- Avoid neglecting these clients and reaffirming their frustrations with the Bank. Be proactive about checking-in and offering broader assistance.
Yes, the loan forgiveness process is understandably more complex, but there is no reason you cannot continue to BUILD upon the great goodwill you developed during the PPP approval process.
Joe Micallef – Sales Coach, BankTalentHQ