banner-blog

Advising Customers & Prospects Through the COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted April 23, 2020 by Nicolle Bouffard

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has disrupted nearly every aspect of people’s lives. Countless small to medium-sized business (SMB) owners also are struggling to stay afloat as they deal with closures, layoffs, and supply chain issues. There’s little doubt this pandemic is going to impact these SMBs in both the short- and long-term.

For those of you who advise SMBs — for example, accountants, attorneys, bankers, and financial planners — Vertical IQ has created a new dedicated webpage with expert research on how COVID-19 is affecting specific industries and sectors of our economy. This is great information to gain insights about how the pandemic is impacting your SMB customers, as well as their buyers and suppliers.

On our COVID-19 webpage, you’ll also get summaries of important economic data as it is released by a variety of government entities and organizations including the Bureau of Economic Analysis, Department of Labor, Federal Reserve Board, National Association of Home Builders, and many more.

>> Related: Help Clients Understand the Impact of COVID-19 on Their Industry

An opportunity for business bankers

I recently spoke with our co-founder and CEO, Bobby Martin, to get his thoughts on how the pandemic is impacting banks and bankers. He explained that this difficult situation actually creates some unique opportunities, especially for business bankers.

A chance to shine

This is not a business-as-usual time for just about anyone. Bobby noted that business bankers are actually needed more than ever by their customers who are confronted with the many challenges this pandemic has created. For example, SMBs are relying on their business banker to help them navigate the $350 billion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act loans process, as well as the Paycheck Protection Program portion of the relief package.

A big factor during this time will be creating an emotional connection with customers and prospects by being as informed and knowledgeable as you can be. After all, the advice you are providing may be the difference between them surviving this crisis and having to declare bankruptcy.

An informed economic resource

For many SMB owners, their banker is their top economic advisor. Now, bankers have an opportunity to go beyond sharing information about income statements and balance sheets. They can offer valuable knowledge about the nation’s macroeconomy as well as the local economy. (Note: Keep in mind that Q1 data will only reflect some impacts from the pandemic. Q2 data will be a more accurate reflection of how COVID-19 has hit businesses across our economy.)

Address this trigger event

A trigger event occurs whenever there is a major change that affects a business. It can be a milestone achieved through the normal course of a business’s life, like buying new equipment or opening a new location. Or, it can be through environmental happenings that are outside of the business’s control, like a new law…or a pandemic.

It is common for SMBs to “shop around” their bank during a trigger event. As a result, the COVID-19 pandemic could present an opportunity if you are the one these SMB owners see is taking the best care of them and their business during this challenging time. You can do this by providing them with the most value.

>> Related: Ready for Change: Addressing Trigger Events with Small Business Owners

5 tips to add value during COVID-19

As part of your role as trusted advisor to your SMB customers, you have an opportunity to make a real difference right now. Here are a few ways to use the industry and economic intelligence found on Vertical IQ’s COVID-19 webpage to help SMB owners during this challenging time.

  1. Help business owners create a revised budget. Many businesses’ revenue and expenses are uncertain right now. Since a lot of SMBs don’t have a CFO, you, as their banker, have an opportunity to offer guidance on how to revise their budget to reflect the current environment and help them plan accordingly. Consider creating a budget template that can be emailed/mailed to your top customers.
  2. Be available to listen and understand emotions. This is a tough time for many SMB owners, personally and professionally. But bankers are in a great position to do a lot of listening and learning, and indeed, coming up with fresh ideas to help businesses succeed. Bobby reiterated: “Remember, during this time…if you form a positive emotional connection with them, they will remember it for years to come.”
  3. Share good ideas from business owners. If you are asking the right questions and learning about a customer’s industry, it’s useful to share those non-confidential learnings with other customers.
  4. Land new customers looking for SBA loans. Some banks only have the bandwidth to help existing customers with CARES Act loans, but if your bank isn’t at capacity, now is a great time to seize an opportunity to grow your book of business.
  5. Learn the virus’s impact before meetings. Call preparation can be difficult with how busy bankers are right now, but the COVID-19 webpage from Vertical IQ can make it a lot simpler. You are welcome to share the information you find on our site to share with your customers and prospects prior to a meeting — in fact, we encourage it! For example, copy and paste some information about the customer’s industry into an email and send it before your call to use as a conversation starter.

A partner to help navigate rough waters

Your customers and prospects need a guide to help them navigate these difficult times. You can maximize this opportunity to be that trusted advisor by using the tips above as well as the industry and economic intelligence found on Vertical IQ’s new COVID-19 webpage.

On this special page, you’ll find great information to share with your SMB customers/prospects who count on you to be their economist and help them make informed decisions. It’s also valuable data for those who are doing credit underwriting beyond CARE Act loans. This COVID-19 information is even going to be useful in the months and years to come, so it may be a good time to print and put it in your files for future reference.

The Vertical IQ COVID-19 webpage does not require a Vertical IQ login to access and is available to the public at no cost. The Vertical IQ research team is regularly updating this page with the latest insights on industries affected by COVID-19. For the convenience of Vertical IQ’s customers, each COVID-19 update is included in the Vertical IQ platform as a chapter within the impacted industries.

>> Visit the Vertical IQ COVID-19 webpage at verticaliq.com/covid-19/.

>> View the related 20-minute presentation by Bobby Martin on how to get the most out of this COVID-19 information.

 

Tags: business banker, advisor, COVID-19

Subscribe to our Blog