Interview with Fabien Comtet, CEO of Kestio

Fabien Comtet is founder and CEO of Kestio. He discusses the pandemic and how sales efficiency and performance are increasing as companies embrace the shift from in-person to online meetings.

‘A one hour video session can be as efficient as four hours in the office’

There’s an important freedom that comes with working from home. You can work when you want, alongside other activities and family time. People have found that they can focus better on a subject – to be much more productive and efficient with their time.

Before the pandemic we needed to convince our clients that a one hour video session can be as efficient as four hours in the office.

Now, we have clients saying that it’s obvious to use video – there is no question anymore. When you define an agenda for one hour and have a clear objective it is much more efficient.

People are more focused than in a physical meeting. This is a consequence of the media.

‘Adapt to this new way of interacting’

Video is much more than just a channel, it’s bigger than that.

It’s given some people more confidence, they can be much more comfortable with this media.

And it’s educated people to listen better, then to choose when they want to speak. You cannot all speak at the same time – if you do, people won’t hear you. So we respect each other’s time more.

We’ve also learnt to be more effective in expressing ourselves. On a video call the focus has to be on the face – your eyes, your mouth, the direction of your head.

It’s important to be animated. We’ve had to train our sales trainers on coaching to trigger certain reactions. To share with our face and our hands – trying to adapt to this new way of interacting.

One reaction we’ve seen is for people to hide their environment – make their room private by using a background, like a false office, for example.

But we ask our clients to open their webcam. Because if we are visible together it will be more interactive. It’s important to let people know that we have nothing to hide.

‘Moving from the old to the new modality’

There is still an open question about people being present physically or remotely.

It’s not yet completely practical to manage both modes at the same time in some organisations. For example, universities.

We are helping clients to change their mindset. There is some resistance, because for many years sales teams have been trained to visit their customers.

It’s true that our natural assumption is that it’s much easier to have a relationship when it’s physical. So they imagine that it will be poor to conduct a meeting by phone or video. But sales guys can be three times more productive this way than the average for the B2B sector.

We no longer have to associate relationships with physical interactions. Making time for a relationship by telephone, video or chat is definitely possible.

We are in a phase of moving from the old to the new modality. And we are focusing on when it is necessary to visit a customer to create.

‘Using AI to give better intelligence’

We have started a project to use AI to give better intelligence and feedback to sales teams during our coaching sessions.

This is the major change. In physical interaction you cannot record what has happened. When it’s virtual, you can – providing you have permission.

It allows us to identify things like the words used and the atmosphere during a sales call by phone and video. This feedback gives us a huge opportunity to improve the sales process.

For example, we can use AI to identify how long it takes to discuss needs. Or the ratio of time engaging between two people. There’s a big difference between 80% speaking or 20%.

‘70% of B2B purchasers would prefer to stay remote’

Currently there are two directions companies are taking. Some want to stay with this new way of working. And some that want to go back to the old world of visiting clients.

My opinion is that we will see the first option becoming the norm. And those companies that don’t train or use this technology will lose out.

McKinsey did a study in October 2020. They asked clients if they would prefer to have interactions with their providers remotely or face to face. 70% of B2B purchasers would prefer to stay remote. They felt that physical meetings with suppliers were taking too much of their time.

As a company, we’re asking all of our suppliers to engage with us this way. Encouraging our own ecosystem to move to this new way of interacting.

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