On a recent 710 WOR “Mind Your Business” broadcast, Yitzchok Saftlas (YS) spoke with guests Michael MacIntyre (MM) of Investors Bank and Jack (JH) and Adam Hubbard (AH) of St. Meyer & Hubbard.
YS: Michael, you’ve been essentially selling virtually since March of 2020, when the pandemic hit. How has your team at Investors adapted to stay connected with its clients and its prospects?
MM:The first thing that we did was we made sure that all of our people were safe. There had been several months with Covid spreading throughout the Northeast. We were really concerned about the wellbeing of our own people. And we took remediation ways to make sure that our folks were safe and could do their jobs effectively. We also did constant check-ins with our customers and with our employees. At the end of the day, making sure that our customers knew that we were there for them was really important. The way we reached out to them was really different. We did a tremendous amount of Zoom meetings, telepresence meetings, phone calls, and chat groups just to make sure that our folks were good. We made sure that our people in the bank had the proper techno- logical tools to stay relevant and in the minds of their customers, whether it be to help them with their PPP loan, to make sure that they were getting what they needed to help them accept payments digitally, to help them open up accounts digitally, or to obtain credit in digital ways.
YS: I now turn to Jack. We're talking about virtual selling. Can you tell us five C's of relationship development?
JH: Bankers have what’s called the five C's of credit. When someone applies for a loan, there are five C's that bankers look at. So, I thought, well, why not turn it into the five C's of trust-based selling? And here they are: Conversations, the most important thing we all have as salespeople. Curiosity, we always want to leave the buyer wanting more. The third one is a Collaboration, working together works, and that means work- ing inside the bank and working with your partners. The fourth one is Customization, your ability to target and focus your energies on that particular buyer. And the last one is Connectivity. I think we’ve done a better job as bankers, but not a great job of trying to use LinkedIn as a powerful tool.
YS: Jack, what are some of the general philosophies at St. Meyer and Hubbard that revolve around selling and training bankers specifically as it relates to having better conversations?
JH: I get an interesting question at the beginning of every year. I get a lot of calls from our clients and they’ll say, Should we go for loans this year or should we focus on deposits? And I always say focus on the problem. If you can help people solve their problems, they’ll bring you money in bushel baskets. So, from a philosophy’s perspective, we believe it’s really important to understand that buyers have answers and bankers have questions. And when bankers ask really good questions, they’re going to uncover all kinds of opportunities. I guess the second thing is – and it was said by Dwight Eisenhower, Benjamin Franklin, and others – failing to plan means planning to fail. The third thing is what you know about your client makes what you know about your product valuable. We need to use better tools like LinkedIn. If bankers use those tools, they’ll learn much more about their client. And a couple more things. I don’t believe in relationship managers; I believe that’s a passive approach. Resource managers, being a resource, be- ing a go-to salesperson person, a go-to banker is really important. And the last thing is really critical. It’s not about the training, it’s about after the training that makes a difference.
YS: Adam, last year over at the company, you spent seven months developing an approach to remote selling. Can you give us some special considerations about working from home from a technical perspective?
AH: What I would like to focus on is some of the higher end technical items that you need: Most laptops come with webcams built in and they're fine, but they don't offer you a ton of flexibility. One of the things we look at is purchasing a USB or external webcam want to get yourself a better angle. You don’t want your client looking up your nose while you’re trying to have a call. Lighting is really, really important. We’ve been on calls with people, and unfortunately, they don’t realize the light behind them. Light from the windows turns them into a shadowy figure and you can't see their face. So, you want to try to turn yourself away, use that diffused light, move yourself away from windows. And the last thing I’ll talk about – it’s the hidden gem of virtual meetings – and that’s the record feature. When we were doing face-to-face calls, man- agers couldn’t be on every single call with their bankers. With virtual meetings now and the record feature, they can be on every call with every banker. The other advantage as a banker it that it really allows for you to actively listen to your client or prospect, because I might miss one or two small details on the call when I’m talking to you directly. But if I can go back and listen to that recording after we’re done, I can really pick up on some of those really fine details that I may have missed during the conversation.
YS: Adam, can you tell us about the human side? What resources are still needed to work from home and to connect with the other person as an individual? What are your tips on that?
AH: Yeah, it’s very true, from a client and a prospect side, especially now that everything has moved away from the security of a branch or an office. Privacy is really important. It’s likely that you’ve got documents spread across tables or desks. You want to make sure that your client or prospect understands that their privacy is key to you as well. That’s especially important when you’re on a virtual call. If you’re like me, you've got a file folder with all of your documents kind of stacked up behind you. It would be really embarrassing if you’re on the call with a client or prospect and a competitor’s term sheet is sitting right behind you. You want to make sure that you remove some of those things from view of your camera. Another thing and we’ve had this happen is about pop-ups. Pop-ups are great. It’s really important to know when your next meeting is. You don't want to miss it. But it would be really bad to have a competitor's name pop up on your screen during a meeting. So, you want to make sure that you're closing things like that.
YS: Mike, you’re charged with driving new business at Investors. How have you managed your people differently? How have the skills that you look at in hiring a new banker changed? And finally, let's talk about the so-important topic: training. How has training changed in light of virtual reality?
MM:In terms of hiring, especially since, let’s say, the middle of March through now, there are a few skills that we continue to emphasize and spend much more time teasing out from our candidates when we’re talking to them. Adaptability: if there’s anything that we’ve learned in the last year it’s the need to be adaptable to the environment that we’re dealing with. And so, in talking to candidates, talking to folks that are contemplating joining us, we’ve asked them how they’ve adapted in their own performance over the last year. Humility: I think Adam did a really good job in talking about the need to demonstrate credibility in this new medium that we’re using for communicating with our customers. And so, it’s much more of a challenge to create empathy and a connection with some- body I feel virtually. But it can be done, and it can be done very, very effectively. Embracing change: If we haven’t done that by now, then just leave it be- hind. We move on from that candidate. And I got to tell you that the more you introduce technology into the equation, the higher the demand for being human. These technologies are great, and they allow us to do our job. But at the end of the day, it’s still being delivered by another fellow human being and a professional.
YS: As we approach the close, we introduce a new format where we get to hear the brilliance of our guests. They get to pick a a word based off their initials. Mike McIntyre, I’m we’re going to turn to you first to pick from. Using your initials, MM, please share in one minute or less a tip or a takeaway that the listeners of “Mind Your Business” can take with them and be successful.
MM: For me, it’s motivation. I wake up every day motivated to do something better. And as our CEO says, my goal is not to be better than you, but to be better for myself today than I was yesterday. I am motivated, and I encourage my teams to be motivated in reaching out to our customers, to our prospects, to our members, our community, and share the war stories that we’ve been through. Build that credibility, continue to further your branding and your presence, but be motivated. I come in every day with the motivation of how can I do better for myself? How can I do better for our customers? How can I do better for our partners? And how can I do better for the bank? And for me, it’s all about motivation and just being consistent in that regard.
JH:Well, I’m going to use both my initials, if you don’t mind. JH is: “just hurry.” You know, I met a banker a long time ago who taught me a great phrase. “In the absence of value, price is always the issue.” So today, this year, just hurry, hurry to provide value. What we’re experiencing right now is not going to go away. Even when we go back to the office, the virtual skills you're hurrying to learn are going to benefit you in the long run as well as your customer. The first thought you have when you get to your desk in the morning has got to be who can I have a value-based, trust- based conversation with today? If you do that, you won’t ever have to worry about the competition. You’ll be the competition.
AH: My takeaway, based on my initials is always hustle. I teach my son’s baseball team, and when you’re teaching 10-, 11-, 12-year- old kids, they make mistakes. What I always tell them is don’t compound that mistake by putting your head down and not hustling. If you hustle after the ball, you can still make that play. The same is true in business. We’ve all had to adjust to a new virtual environment, and the ones who are successful in adjusting are hustling. They’re the ones who are taking the effort to go out and learn the new software. They’re learning from YouTube. They’re hustling. They’re trying to do their best for themselves, their clients, and their prospects. So that’s my advice: Always hustle.