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How to Kickstart Your Sales Career [Interview With Marcus Cauchi]

Forster Perelsztejn author on Overloop the sales engagement, cold email, and LinkedIn automation software blog
Forster Perelsztejn Dec 19, 201710 min read

As opposed to Morgan J. Ingram and Rex Biberston, this week's guest is not a millennial but he sure knows a thing or two about them! Marcus Cauchi was kind enough to take the time to talk about his work as a sales coach and give advice to newcomers about how to launch their sales career!

Check out Marcus' YouTube channel for practical and effective sales advice!

Could you introduce yourself a little bit for our readers, tell us what you do?

Okay. My name is Marcus Cauchi. I’m with Sandler Training, with the world’s largest sales and sales management company. I’m a franchisee based in the southeast of England, been with them for 14 years. I’ve worked in 450 sectors of the market, and essentially, I teach people to do the least amount of work for the most amount of money.

So you teach the Sandler rules. What are they articulated around? What are they based on?

Sandler is based around a good psychological model, which is transaction analysis, and it’s really about understanding how people buy and why they buy. People buy for their reasons, not the salesperson’s reasons. It’s the salesperson’s job to get out of the way of the sale and the prospect’s decision to buy. Unfortunately, most salespeople find themselves or make themselves the center of attention. The conversation tends to be a broadcast by the salesperson to some bold prospect who’s having to endure some kind of painful presentation blathering on about features and benefits.

Now, people don’t buy for those reasons. They buy specifically because they have a problem that they want to have fixed and brings the salesperson in for the good of their health, unless they have a health problem, of course. What they’re trying to do is fix a problem, but most salespeople are just trying to pedal stuff. That’s where the disconnect happens, and that’s where they focus the prospect on the cost on the investment rather than the return. As a result of that, they spend an awful lot of their time boring prospects, excuse me, ending up doing free consulting, chasing, doing follow ups, all that kind of stuff.

So that’s the most common mistake you see, that they’re focused on the product and the investment and not on the return and the value.

That’s the first mistake they make. The second mistake they make is they put the customer on a pedestal. The customer is never more or less than your equal. If you put them on a pedestal, you give away your power, and your job in the sale is to control the sale. It’s not to be some kind of puppy dog that does what they’re told and rolls over so you can tickle their tummy. It’s your job to uncover what the problem really is at its root cause and to diagnose that problem and to help the prospect see and give them insight through your questions.

Again, most sales people talk – or they present rather than listen and ask questions. They give away their power, and then they spend their time trying to convince. You can’t convince anybody to buy anything. They have to discover why they want it for themselves, and that’s where your credibility comes from, from the questions that you ask, not the information that you give.

Adam Honig at Spiro, CRM wrote an article on our blog about how introverts can build self-confidence. How does this training with introverts go?

Interesting question. If you’re dealing with an introvert, you just need to adapt the training so it’s comfortable for them to adopt the system, and the system is reliable. We work with introverts, extroverts, people who are very detailed oriented, people who are big picture, fast paced, slow paced. It doesn’t make any difference as far as we’re concerned. At the end of the day, if you have a good system, you need to make it your own, and you need to control your own behavior.

The prospect needs to get whatever personality type they need in order to buy from you. As a salesperson, you’re largely irrelevant. You’re a vehicle for asking questions and gathering good data. If you make yourself the center of attention or you say you’re an introvert or an extrovert and you find it difficult to sell to a certain section of the population, then you’re cutting your own legs off. Now, I think a good salesperson can sell to any personality type, and they need to learn to adapt their personality to meet the requirements of that particular prospect.

I saw on your LinkedIn profile that 95% of management problems start with bad recruitment. So what should recruiters pay attention to when they’re hiring and, specifically, salespeople?

This is so important. The most important thing that you look for is not skills, experience, and results, which is what most people do. They want to see that they’ve got experience in that sector, or selling into that space, or in that particular technology. The reality is you’re a slave to your habits. If someone has a prospecting habit before they come, they’ll probably continue it when they’re on your payroll. If they have a questioning habit, a listening habit, if they are willing to plant their feet, if they have a good money concept, their beliefs, their values, if they have a strong money concept, if they believe that they are selling value and they’re not selling their time, and they’re not selling a commodity, then they can charge their premium prices. They need to have good cognitive ability so the ability to learn, adapt, to change based on the current environment or the person that they’re in front of. They need to be able to learn quickly on the hoof. They need to take what they’re learning from their failures, and then adapt things to the next conversation that they have.

Those are good predictors of success, but most people do try to sell the job and sell the company. I think, when you’re interviewing, you should put the candidate under a lot of pressure for a sales job. When they’re in front of some gnarly, tough CFO, CEO, purchasing person, they need to be able to plant their feet. They need to grow a spine, not a wishbone. The mistake that they make is they end up caving because they fall into the buyer’s system. I like putting people under pressure when I’m interviewing to see how they change their behavior from when things are going smoothly to when things are tough.

In that regard, what advice would you give to young grads who want to start a sales career?

Get onto LinkedIn, and find people who are good at selling, who’ve got a good system. Connect with them. Become a social seller. Build your network. Hubspot did some recent research a couple of months ago. About 72% of people hit target if they’re social selling, and only 45% do who don’t. That’s the first thing.

Second thing is become a voracious learner. I would recommend the following books, Asking Questions the Sandler Way by Antonio Garrido. I would recommend Why People Buy by Greg Nanigian. I’d recommend You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar by David Sandler. I’d also recommend a book by a guy called Mark Goulston, called Just Listen, which is not a sales book per se, but it’s all about understanding people. I would invest a lot of time in myself. I’d spend at least an hour a day in self-study. Obviously, I’m partisan here, but I’d definitely connect with a local Sandler trainer and see if you could get onto their young adults program.

I would get their bosses to invest in them. If their company onboarding process is basically: "Congratulations, you are hired"; they give them a business card and a phone and tell them to get on with it, that’s a really bad sign. That suggests that their manager is useless. The problem with most recruitment is it’s the manager’s fault or the owner’s fault, and it’s because of the culture that they create. If they really want to get ahead, they should keep a journal every day of what happened, what they’re grateful for, what their behaviors are that they’re committed to, how they did against those behaviors, what lessons they learned, what failures they had, and how they’re going to adapt the next time. That would be a great starting point.

The other thing and, again, this sounds self-serving but I’ve got probably a couple of hundred videos up on my YouTube channel. Subscribe to that. That’s a really good starting point. I would watch the videos by a guy called Paul Lanigan, from Dublin. His are fantastic, Jody Williamson, and also the Sandler podcast and the Sandler video channel. There’s some great stuff on there, and it’s readily accessible. It’s in bite-sized chunks.

What else? Planning, that’s the other thing. Have a plan, and make sure you’re planning and working off behaviors, not numbers off a spread sheet. Those would be my early tips.

All right, thanks. That’s very valuable. Since we’re talking about managers, based on your experience, what are the traits and behaviors of good sales managers?

Great sales managers understand that they have two functions in life: hire the best people, and get the best out of them. Great managers don’t carry a bag themselves, so they don’t carry a personal target. They hand over all their accounts. They go out, and they’re coaching, training, mentoring, and helping their salespeople do better, everybody. They should be out in the field with each of their salespeople at least once a month. They should be doing one-on-ones with them at least once a month. They should be meeting the team or speaking to each individual weekly about their pipeline.

They’re clear about what’s expected right from the interview and selection process through their entire lifecycle. What’s new in the pipeline? What’s advanced in the pipeline? What hasn’t? Why not? What are you going to do this week to either advance it or disqualify it? What have you won? What have you lost? Why did you lose it? If you lost it on bad money, did you lose it on money because you didn’t ask the questions early enough, and are you qualifying hard enough? Are there any roadblocks?

They need to be asking these kind of questions. Not to try and trip the salesperson up, but the salesperson needs to know that they are expected to be able to come back with answers to those questions. When the salesperson comes back from the meeting and says it was a great meeting, the sales manager’s first question should be why? If they say because they were really bolstered and enthusiastic, the salesperson should give them a slightly dirty look. Then say why? My salespeople didn’t bother to gather any information. You’re in the sale to gather information, not to give it. If they haven’t been able to analyze the prospect’s pain, their budget, their decision making process, who the cast of characters are, what the criteria are for them making a decision, and what the compacted landscape looks like, the timeframes, then they’re not really a salesperson. They’re at best an order taker, or if they’re really bad and they suck completely, they’re a negotiator.

Do you have a sales tech? Do you have tools that use or that you recommend?

I’m very low-tech. I use LinkedIn as my contact database. I spend a couple of hours on there every day. I use content as a means to engage, attract, and become a subject matter expert. I use referral partnerships. I work with people who operate in noncompeting sectors, but sell to the same target market that I do. Then we go through a long flirtation process to establish if we want to work together, and then we educate one another on how to introduce each other as if it was ourselves. We have a process where we give honest adult-to-adult feedback so that we constantly improve.

Now, I’ve been in it long enough most of my stuff comes through referral, so I’m blessed that I don’t have to cold call anyone near as much as I did when I first started. InMail and groups are fantastic. The other trick that I’ve discovered is sponsorship. Sponsorship is a fantastic way of meeting the kind of people that you want to meet. We sponsor Women in Business awards because, first of all, it’s a great cause. There aren’t enough women in business being recognized for their work, and I have three young daughters that I want to see them have great women role models. It’s a great of getting into organizations with very low cost and very easily, and so those are the things that I do.

Some interesting advice I saw from you. I read that a salesperson shouldn’t be handling the objection themselves. Can you elaborate on that?

You tell me. Whose objection is it, yours or the prospects?

The prospects, of course.

Okay. Who’s the person best qualified to handle it?

The prospect.

Exactly. You see what I’ve just done to you?

I saw that the problem was on my side, and told you what it was.

Exactly. Who handled it?

I did.

Exactly. That’s how you should do it.

If you handled the objection, then you’re in an adversarial relationship with the prospect. You never justify, and you never defend. If there is an objection coming, you should light the fuse on the bomb before they do. If you waited at your time of choosing, then you’re in control. If they suddenly throw it at you, it’s probably because you have created the conditions for that objection to arise, and it’s your fault. That’s one of the key things that we teach in our system, which is it’s always your fault. The prospects never object unless the salesperson takes them there.

All right, you’ve already given tons of great advice. I just have one last question to ask. What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?

Never make a promise that you don’t intend to keep. You learn by the promises you keep, not the ones that you make. In any line of life, let alone sales, if you keep you word and you’re known for keeping your word, then people can trust you.

Thank you very much for doing this. I really appreciate it. There was ton of valuable advice, and I can’t wait to share that with our readers.