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Why You Should Never Sell Using Pain with the April Fool Marcus Cauchi

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This episode is also available on YouTube:

Do you want you, or your product or service to be tied to a feeling of pain?  That's a considerable red flag, and our guest, Marcus Cauchi, explains why.  Marcus challenges traditional sales methodologies, advocating for a pain-free discovery process and embracing objections as accelerators in the sales journey. 

What you'll learn:

  • Why buyer safety is critical to your success.
  • Why business values must align with customer needs
  • Why it's time to embrace a more ethical approach to sales.
  • What is the Seller Code, and how you can be part of it.


The Seller Code -

Demand-Side Sales 101: Stop Selling and Help Your Customers Make Progress - by Bob Moesta, Greg Engle

Giving Voice to Values: How to Speak Your Mind When You Know What's Right - by Mary C. Gentile

Trust-Based Selling: Using Customer Focus and Collaboration to Build Long-Term Relationships - by Charles H. Green



[0:00] I think the language we use is really important.
No customer wants to be closed. No customer wants to be handled.
No customer wants to be controlled.

[0:17] Welcome to the Full Funnel Freedom podcast. If you are listening to this, you are likely leading a team responsible for generating revenue. and you.
Purpose of Full Funnel Freedom is to support people like yourself and keep your.

[0:30] Music.

[0:30] Funnels consistently, reliably full.

[0:35] Welcome to the Full Funnel Freedom podcast. I'm your host, Hamish Knox.
Today, I am absolutely delighted to have my friend Marcus Kauke as my guest on the podcast.
Marcus believes we make a pig's ear of selling and leading by being selfish, by making it about us.
Marcus believes selling is the most noble act we can perform in business, guiding other people to make good decisions well.
That is our role, not to sell, not to handle, not to control or close.
No one wants to be an organic ATM machine feeding some investor's valuation number. He is the co-author of
Visit it. He dares you to add it to your email signature. He is the co-author of Making Channel Sales Work, host of the Inquisitor podcast, which he has graciously invited me onto a couple of times, and he's the founder of Principled Selling.
Marcus coaches clients to focus on what matters and stop doing what doesn't.
Marcus teaches the dark matter of sales that is the fabric of human relationships and decision making. Marcus, welcome to Full Funnel Freedom.

[1:33] Thank you. It's almost like I wrote that myself. You just might have.
So Marcus, I've given the audience the high level, the 30,000 foot view of who you are and what you do.
Take us down a level. Tell us the story of Marcus and how you got from where you were to where you are today.
Okay. Okay. I'm 56, got three daughters, youngest one just turned 18.
So I've come to a point in my life where I'm hoping that some wisdom will set in.
And I've become more reflective in my old age as my drive for empire has waned.
And in all honesty, I don't think I was ever a great salesperson.
I don't think I was ever a great business person. But what I do understand is human behavior.
You and my wife took me aside about um six weeks ago and said marcus you're only interested in learning so let's just build everything around that and the net result of um.

[2:31] Being an obsessive learner is I have a brain that synthesizes stuff and joins dots and connects stuff.
And I do that with my network. I do that with my thinking.
I can go down many rabbit holes and then all of a sudden I'll have an epiphany and pull all these things together.
About 15 years years ago um so not long after I joined Sandler um I really started to question the dogma of it all I watched myself make the basically turn my parenting um and my relationship into mostly a car crash you know the fact that Suzanne stuck by me is more a testament to her um resilience and the fact that love is clearly blind um than anything to do with my charm or wit um and i realize now that almost everything that i was taught to do every um idea that i bought into was really geared towards the um consumption of more and more and more and actually it's an an allegory for how the economic system works.
The system is based on inputs and outputs.
The input is money. The output is debt.

[3:57] And the whole system is set up so that asset owners.

[4:03] Take value from the system and um asset renters then have to put into the system so i'm thinking this is all systems and i was very influenced by a podcast i did with a guy called bob mester um bob wrote a phenomenal book called demand side sales and this was an engineer who had 5 000 patented products he couldn't shift he developed and designed and he worked out well Well, maybe let's work out what it is that would motivate someone to move from where they are to where they could be.
So that was an inspiration for me.

[4:44] And then another massive inspiration was a guy called Simon Bowen.
And Simon takes really complex ideas and distills them down into these beautifully elegant, simple mental models.
And these ideas kept distilling away and i had this background with the channel book and my work with sandler and questioning and all of this stuff and it all started to coalesce and what i started to realize and this is a heresy so i'm ready for the fight um pain whilst it has its place i don't believe has its place at all in either marketing or sales say more about that, I believe you can conduct an entirely pain-free discovery process and we should welcome and in fact wherever possible raise objections because they are accelerators and they're an invitation over the threshold and into the hearth and so a question keeps going through my mind.

[5:52] How is it we seem to spend so much of our time filling the top of our funnel?
And I had lunch with Dave Davies yesterday, and he was saying that he's got clients who have to go through 10,000 leads to end up with one customer. Oi!

[6:11] Now, in all honesty, that isn't the first or the worst that I've heard.
Depressingly, that's pretty average. It's not quite. Because when you actually extrapolate most processes and for any of you who are a sales leader or who are a founder who happens to have accidentally picked up the mantle of selling, you bought the job by accident.

[6:36] Anything that you do that creates friction with the buyer's brain and its natural desire to find safety and security. So I often talk about concept buyer safety.
Simon Bowen introduced me to this concept.
I've been thinking about the neuroscience, the problem with all sales methodologies that certainly were developed before the year 2000.
There's no neuroscience to it. So it's largely based on Taylor and other management thinkers who looked at the world through the lens of it being a factory.
Now if you read wealth of nations about two-thirds of the way through adam smith actually says what you shouldn't ever do is give monopolistic or oligarchic power to a small number of what he called the mercantile classes asset owners because if you do they will skew the system in their favor and you see this with lobbying you see this with what they investors insist companies measure pleasure which is what drives the valuation number not what makes a great business great.

[7:47] I mean when we all start out our businesses typically we're doing that because we think you know there's a much better way of doing it and I am the man or woman to do this and what's more I know that everyone else is wrong because I've been on the sharp end of the shitty stick for a very long time.
And I've seen what's wrong with it. And I get it.
So there's a set of people who I am uniquely best placed to serve in helping them achieve their outcome.
But the minute I take someone else's money, the job to be done moves from serving that job to serving the new job, which is meeting the quarterly valuation target. it.

[8:35] What has this got to do with creating full funnel freedom?
Well, the money behind a business permeates the culture beneath it.
Now, when the money has a stable of 40 or 50 or 100 companies in it.

[8:52] You're just a number on a spreadsheet, and you're a financial instrument.
Human beings who may or may not perform for a particular quarter or two are then an inconvenience for that valuation.
They can be rubbed out because in the same way that with war, it used to be shell shock.
Then it became, I can't remember what it was, But it was something sort of more turned down.
I remember there's a wonderful George Carlin sketch about this. Battle fatigue.
I know exactly what you're talking about. That's it. And then it's post-traumatic stress disorder.
And now it's probably going to be a challenge.
Yeah? And we weaken it. Well, I think the language we use is really important.
No customer wants to be closed. No customer wants to be handled.
No customer wants to be controlled.

[9:51] So this is why i say i dare you go to the seller and read through it as a buyer you are a buyer in some circumstances so read through it a buyer is that the kind of seller you would want to have show up and sell to you because what buyers the one thing that matters most and i I just interviewed a very seasoned chief financial officer from one of my practice labs.
So I bring live clients in so my clients can role play with them.
So he's 45 years as a COO and a CFO of TWA, Charles Schwab, Standard & Poor.
I mean, a serious heavy hitter and takes note.
And what we did was we worked out what it was that really matters to him. And it is this one thing.

[10:43] He wants to make the right decision and he wants to make it well what he doesn't want is to make the wrong decision or to make the right decision badly if it goes wrong he doesn't want it to come back and bite him on the bottom okay so he wants to know you have his back that is the one thing he is looking for.
He wants to feel safe.
The decision he is making is the right one, done for the right reasons, and he is Teflon.

[11:22] Now, every decision maker wants that.
Investors ask you only two questions. Will I get my money back and when?
When buyers, when they give you their time, are saying, if I invest my time, I'm running a hundred million dollar P&L.
My time is worth fifty thousand dollars an hour. Mm hmm.

[11:48] I better show up bloody well-prepared, really well-practiced, not asking tedious, shitty, boring housekeeping questions that serve only me.
So let me be clear. Anyone who uses BANT as a framework for discovery is committing a crime against their customers and their shareholders.
Shareholders anyone who uses medic and or sandler or any other framework as a weaponized form of self-discovery is doing themselves and the customer a disservice and there is no getting around it it's why i say this is a challenge if you go to the seller code and you add that to your email with this line i am proud to sell with the seller code and then the link if someone clicks that all All of a sudden, you are now putting yourself into a position where you hold yourself to account.
This is the beauty about most of the things that we misunderstand about sales.

[12:54] Motivation is not something that should ever appear on a manager's job description as something that they can do to other people.
Motivation is an internal force. You cannot motivate.
You can bully, bribe, inspire, lie to, coerce, whatever you do.
That what you cannot do is motivate any more than you can convince.
So stop trying to convince them. Because a lot of my clients are over on your side of the Atlantic, I do often have to ask the question, do you believe in evolution?
And it doesn't matter whether you do or not. I just need to understand, open you up to the possibility that emotions drive behavior. Mm-hmm.

[13:37] And we are creatures of programming to a large extent. We habituate.
And if we're triggered through attachment or something else,

[13:46] we will behave in predictable ways.
Given that we've got, let's say, 250 million years of evolutionary hardwiring, that has worked to make Hamish Knox the second to last in the line of his entire historical generation, because you've got kids haven't you they don't have kids i do have kids yeah yeah but they don't have kids not quite yet no they're they're nine and twelve so a couple more years just let me stop you there but i'm gonna let you swallow before i ask you this question they are the peak of your evolutionary line does that give you hope for the future a hundred percent in my case excellent i'm delighted to hear it you see so much better as a human being and as a parent than i Excellent.

[14:36] Now, my point being here, we've got this and we can either choose to get in the way and everything that we do.
For example, when we put our buyer under pressure at the end of a month or quarter because it serves our desire to get our boss off our case, to get a couple of deals over the line so we can make the numbers look a little bit better on day 34 of a 29 day month.
And um we don't think about the consequential effects so a huge amount of my work is what's the ripple effect of this and what do i do to make that not happen in the first place so you asked about pain-free discovery well what if a miracle occurred and it was a year from now Now, Hamish,

[15:32] and everything had gone according to plan.
Describe what that business will look like.
Great question. Great question for the leaders listening.
And it's a fabulous way of, as a leader, coaching your managers to dispel their attachment to the shit that's getting in the way.
Because what comes next is, okay, so tell me what will be good about that.

[16:03] Because I want them to anchor the imagination of a past future that has not yet happened.
And I want them to associate that with me.
But if I'm reminding them of their pain, the next time, there's always just that little threat.
And I am no threat to anyone. The way I've structured everything, I mean, I'm giving you the whole fit and shebang here.
What I did was I analyzed all the sales training organizations, all the sales leaders, thought leaders, all that kind of stuff.
I looked at all the methodologies, and I looked at their strengths and their weaknesses.
I did a SWOT analysis. And then I asked two really interesting questions.
What is the strength in their weakness and the weakness in their strength?

[16:59] Now, why do I ask this? This opens up adjacent markets.
It opens up the opportunity to have customer interviews where I'm talking and looking for unusual uses for my product or service.

[17:14] Workarounds. people who are unhappy and learning to run to the sound of gunfire because all of the good news comes in the bad news so that's essentially my philosophy how do i stop doing the stupid things i am creating right the symptoms of downstream that i'm now paying a fortune to the mckinsey's I'm buying software and data and overhiring let me ask you this one question what if with no additional resources with no additional spend you're able to 3x or 10x your business hypothetically is there any reason why you wouldn't be willing to dedicate a couple of hours and I bring my best thinkers and you bring the people who are really at the sharp end, not the ones with the status, but the ones who are really closest to the problem.
And at the end of it, we will map out a detailed Gantt chart of all the things that you need to do.
I can then cost that out for you. And if you want to do it yourself, if you want to take it to your favorite consultant, ignore it or bring me in. That's your call.
I'm not going to charge you for it.

[18:43] However, at the end of it, what I would like is a clear decision as to where we stand.
And if we continue the conversation and I will have no hard feelings, it will be literally no harm, no foul.
If you say no to me now, can you see any reason for us not to do that?

[19:01] It's a great way of positioning it without again you putting yourself in the way of of the buyer i like how you you know talking about words i'm a very big fan of words we've talked about that on your podcast and you know for for us you know in in north america we have this whole city in nevada that's built around payoffs you might have heard of it um and it's uh and so that's that's the the positioning that i use with with my buyers is you know what would the payoff be.

[19:26] Because people love talking about payoffs right they love visioning they love they love thinking about what happens if you know I roll sixes and then the other one that I hear a lot from from sellers especially I hear it from sales leaders every now and then is the word deal right I'm dealing with a client it's like well Marcus if I'm dealing with you that's not exactly a positive thing and how we talk and how we think it manifests in our actions so if I have to deal with you both of us are probably not going to feel very good about that interaction fair fair well this is the thing um i need an ally uh talking to the cfo was really instructive i've had several conversations with him over the last couple years um and um he gets excited at the prospect of a salesperson coming in because they can help him understand and and there are are six rules i've developed and your mouth should not open and no sound should come out unless these six rules are absolutely adhered to is what you are saying or asking timely.

[20:37] Relevant and valuable to your customer okay does it help them get clarity on the reality of their situation does it help them understand what options are available to them fully and transparently with nothing withheld and everything that is material to them making a good decision well being disclosed and you advance them towards making a good decision well that's it if you you ensure that everything that you do is planned back from their outcome, built with those premises.

[21:20] I use AI all the time to make sure that before I go in to meet a customer, I've dealt with all the things that I'm going to do to create the problem.
And your friend, Amy Woodall, taught me this.
My buyer is often wrong. And when they are, it's usually my fault.

[21:40] When prospects object, why? Because we take them there.
Everything that we do in sales that creates and again this is the evidence okay so coming back to full funnel freedom what if you could double your sales in the next 90 days without a single additional penny in fact you could cut the spending entirely on cold direct outreach outreach and redeploy the time, the money, and the resources on a higher value activity.
I love that, Marcus. And you and I could certainly nerd about this stuff all day long. We certainly have on a couple of your podcasts.
I have a few questions for you before we wrap up today.
And the first two, I actually borrowed from you. So audiences,

[22:31] Marcus was the inspiration for these questions that you've heard for the past couple of years.
So first one, Marcus, you can go back, back coach your younger self go back as far as you like uh and you can say hey younger marcus you're in you know in the future you're going to have this great career you're gonna have this amazing family you're also going to have a lot of scar tissue and bumps and bruises what would you coach younger marcus to say or do differently to get to the same spot but with fewer bumps and bruises and a little less scar tissue um the first thing i would do is i'd say focus on on self-awareness and self-compassion.
Because self-awareness is not just understanding how you feel.

[23:10] It's understanding how you show up, and what you're projecting out, and how it's getting reflected back.

[23:20] And develop consequential critical thinking critical thinking without consequence becomes inhumane and you see that at the moment where people become just a number on a balance sheet um net result of that is you've seen 300 000 layoffs in the sas market alone last year and this year is going to be the bloodbath and it's.

[23:46] Going to affect other jobs as well and it's not because the investors the asset owners don't have money they are richer than they ever have been they are choosing and the question i have to ask does apple really need to grow beyond a trillion dollars if so why other than to serve the beast okay so we then have to start asking ourselves well what really matters most and this is the key it's the intrinsic motivators it's not the extrinsic when i was actually 22 my first sales job um my trainer nick nicholson well intentions but really the worst advice he could possibly have given someone with an obsessive addictive personality and it was this always stay hungry spend more than you earn and i look back at that idiot that i was and i believe that shit and i ended up on a road to.

[24:56] Success towards self-destruction and a lot of people that i work with now my history their future um i'm the object lesson okay and what i've learned is it's not about the techniques it's not about the tactics it's about the dark matter that bill brings all this stuff together that makes you a decent human being right i listened to uh carl sagan recently recently a recording of him and he was being challenged about his atheism and he came back with something that is just truly brilliant and I think if we apply the same principle in sales or leadership.

[25:42] And it's the reverse of Pascal's wager. Sagan says, look, if there is no God and I hold myself to the highest standard and I do so because I believe it is the right thing to do.
If there is one, I suspect he or she may be quite forgiving.

[26:01] Now, this is why, again, I'm going to exalt you to go to
I make no money from it. It is simply a way of attracting, engaging, and starting to enroll people into this mission to make sales the most noble act we perform in business, to make sales a force for good.
And I genuinely believe it is a better way than going down the route of the Andrew Tates, the Andy Elliotts, and the Grant Cardones of this world.
I think what we should be doing is really fixating on making the world a better place.
Um enlisting diverse groups of people against the problem in order to elevate everybody that's what is humanity's superpower my model is really simple cooperate and communicate so that we co-develop an understanding of the problem code up a solution choreograph who does what when to what standard and why and then elevate everybody now those are evergreen skills sales in a tough market, that's the stuff that's going to keep your business afloat.
And this is why you need to look at your ecosystem and stop going direct.
Cold calling. Yeah, it works, but you've got a 99.99% failure rate to generate revenue. That's the job to be done.

[27:27] Great advice for all of us younger selves and not so younger selves included.
So Marcus, Because curious, you are an avid learner and your consumption of books is quite legendary.
So what have you read, watched, listened to either recently or in the past that you would recommend the audience of sales leaders check out to further their own development?
There are several. There are a couple that I would absolutely recommend now.
Okay. You are a young leader or you are someone in a difficult role and you're going to have to make awful, difficult decisions because of the context in which you operate.
Giving Voice to Values by Mary Gentile, spelled Gentile. She'll be coming on my podcast soon.
Trust-Based Selling is the best book on sales that has ever been written by Charles H.
Green. he was a guy who co-authored the trusted advisor and co-created the trust equation i would also read the innovators method i think that's by a guy called james nuff or um there's something, And you need to start thinking in that way in terms of taking short risks, small risks in short sprints, experimenting all the time, running to the sound of gunfire, looking for the bad news, because that's where the money is.
It's where your competition isn't.
OK, and you want to go to uncontested markets.

[28:56] I'll give you a great example of this. Last week, I had three of my clients phone me up and tell me the thing they love about working with me most is a sense of personal satisfaction that they get from doing an amazing job well.

[29:12] But they're closing at six to nine hundred percent ahead of anyone else in their industry. Wow. Wow.
One guy closed the largest deal in the company's five year history in the UK by slowing the sale down, downselling them, avoiding any pressure to bring them forward.
Because if you put them under pressure, you actually trigger contempt and disgust in a part of the brain. Insula.
We put that into playbooks.
It's madness. madness anyway you know don't do any of that stuff it really is as simple as that if you don't do any of that you ally yourself to their brain and it just looks to you as an oasis of calm think about it this is my eighth recession the uk has just entered last last couple of weeks okay eighth time and the last seven i'll tell you what happened people operated out of scarcity and fear and behaved really bad.
Don't do that and you will differentiate. Don't let people to do that and they will differentiate.
That is a great closing bit of wisdom to wrap us up today, Marcus.
I absolutely love visiting with you offline and online.
So thank you very much for being a guest on Full Funnel Freedom. Thank you.

[30:35] Sales leaders, I really enjoyed listening to Marcus share his philosophies on, on helping our sellers differentiate on how they sell, not what they sell, and not becoming that negative thing in the back of their buyer's mind when they think about their problem, they think, oh yeah, that salesperson I saw, they were the source of that, or they made me feel not okay.
So few things that I took away from Marcus's insights and ideas today. Number one is.

[31:10] Be conversational, coach your sellers to seek genuine conversations, not pushing towards an end goal.
Because from my experience, the minute that our buyer feels like we're trying to shove them or our sellers are trying to shove them in a certain direction, they are going to start to resist.
Tension will start to rise in a relationship. Our seller's credibility will go down.
And then ultimately, we might get the sale probably a lot longer.
It's going to take a lot longer than we and they hope for, and we don't necessarily have a great rapport with our buyer.

[31:47] I really like Marcus's six points on whether or not a seller should be speaking in a conversation.
I encourage you to go back and listen to those six points that he put out there, because ultimately, we all know, we know that our sellers need to be talking a lot less than they actually do.
And when we go out and field support visits or we're listening to calls or whatever that might be is we find that they are doing the majority of the talking and our buyer or their buyer is doing the majority of the listening which basically means that our seller is guilty of free consulting.
I'm really curious to hear about your big takeaways in the comments on our social media.
Until we connect on the next episode, go create Full Funnel Freedom.
Thanks for listening to today's episode of the Full Funnel Freedom podcast.
You can continue to support us by leaving us a review and a rating sharing this episode with a couple of sales leaders in your network who you care about i'd love to connect with you i'm easy to find hamish knox on linkedin also if you'd like a free 15 minute call with me go to forward slash how to sandler until we connect on the next episode go create full funnel freedom.

[33:05] Music.