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ACBB is forgoing our quarterly newsletter and offering a weekly series of themed articles from the resident experts at ACBB.  Our theme is RESILIENCY.  We chose that word specifically over continuity and recovery as it matches our organization’s culture.  Not to survive but thrive!

The first article in the series is our perspective on Marketing, Selling and Relationship Building during crisis.  Our hope is that you find some useful insight that can benefit your own team or organization.

Relationships During Crisis
How do you plan a strategy for a game where you don’t know the rules and can’t see the opponent?  In times like these, when you’re blazing new trails you rely on common sense and nuggets of unrelated experiences to piece together a game plan.

A colleague recently shared an article titled something to the effect “How do you sell at a funeral”.  It was interesting and thought provoking, so I shared it with my team with the lead-in, “You Don’t”.

Right or wrong my team came up with a three-pronged approach to relationship management:

  • Connect:  Just call clients, partners and friends and let them know you’re thinking about them.  Silence is deadly in a crisis and even bad news prevents speculation and fear.  We can adapt and overcome anything; we just need to know what it is.
  • Care:  Simply ask “how are you” and offer help, even if you don’t know what you can do for them.  Isn’t that what relationships are all about?
  • Collaborate:  Two heads are better than one.  There will be a time when we need to get back to business, even if not “as usual”.  Continue to offer relevant ideas based on your client’s specific situation.  Save the brochures and presentations and simply share your unique combination of experience and perspective to help brighten that light at the end of the tunnel.

Our team and organization were well prepared for this crisis and responded quickly to close any gaps in technology, strategy and resources.  We observed that communication can be accomplished in many forms and sometimes virtual channels are more effective than traditional ones.  We learned that working remotely is difficult.  There are no clear boundaries between at-work and not-at-work, so we implemented limits to avoid burnout. 
On leading employees, we discovered the need for even greater levels of proactive communication and transparency.  Information gaps lead to uncertainty, speculation and stress.  Honesty and focused connections creates a shared vision, which has been achieved with a brief, daily, organization-wide video conference.  As the informal communications around the office ceased,  we have learned to dig deeper and ask better questions to see the whole picture.

Finally, we realized that the best strategy is conveying humility.   Discussing what we don’t know and communicating what we are thinking today, even if we risk adjusting our thinking tomorrow.  Together we will weather this storm and come out stronger on the other side - RESILIENCY.

We want to compliment our community bankers.  You have done whatever it takes to get PPP loans processed, and it hasn't gone unnoticed.  While others programmed and automated their way to a solution, you processed and solved the problem quickly.  The feedback we received on an owners’ meeting for a large national franchise was that the owners that used community banks got their loans completed, while others using larger institutions are still waiting to be processed.  The general consensus after the meeting was, “once this crisis is over, we are moving our business accounts to a community bank that cares about our relationship”.  In such unprecedented times,  congratulations on a job well done! 

Keep an eye out for our next installment, which will feature Bill Booth, Head of Product Strategy and Innovation, with insights on how you can apply proven, profitable strategies to support your institution and business customer payments and working capital processes.

Thank you,
Joe Krzywicki 

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