Interview with Madhu Shetty, a Sales Luminary and Renowned Sales Specialist Trainer

Madhu Shetty

An exclusive interview with Madhu Shetty, a sales luminary and renowned Sales Specialist Trainer

Madhu Shetty is a sales luminary and renowned Sales Specialist Trainer and consultant who has spent over 25 years empowering sales professionals and transforming organisations. With an unwavering commitment to excellence, Madhu has trained and mentored over 34,000+ Field Sales and Inside Sales Professionals from 13 countries, positioning himself as a leading authority in the field of sales enablement.

His remarkable journey has been punctuated by accolades, including being an Excellence Awardee and an alumnus of the prestigious National Institute of Sales (NIS Sparta), where he completed a 2 Year PG Diploma in Sales and Marketing. Drawing from this rich educational foundation and deep industry experience, Madhu possesses a profound understanding of sales methodologies, allowing him to bring forth transformative insights for his clients.

What sets Madhu apart is his relentless pursuit of customization and practicality. Prior to every training programme, he invests 2-4 days per training day in extensive preparation, immersing himself in his clients’ products and meticulously auditing their sales processes, along with those of their top three competitors.

This meticulous approach enables Madhu to tailor his training programmes to each client’s specific needs and challenges, ensuring maximum impact and tangible results.

Madhu’s commitment to delivering comprehensive solutions extends beyond training. He stands as the sole sales trainer in Asia who supplements his programmes with a range of unparalleled value-added services.

These services include Mystery Shopping Audits, Sales Process Audits, Competition Sales Process Mapping, and Creating Sales Playbooks. Particularly beneficial for companies with large sales teams or those seeking to scale their sales operations, these supplementary services provide clients with a holistic approach to sales excellence.

To augment his vast experience, Madhu has acquired several certifications, including the esteemed SPIN Selling Technique from NIS Sparta, Inbound Marketing Specialist from HubSpot, High-Performance Sales Teams from Neil Richardson (PA Consulting, UK), and Experiential Trainer Certification from IIPE (Canada).

These certifications further amplify his ability to deliver world-class training programmes and impart transformative knowledge to sales professionals.

Madhu’s passion for democratising sales skills acquisition was ignited during his tenure as a software sales specialist at NIIT Technologies, Bangalore, during the 1990s. As a tech sales professional he was the only sales rep across 8 regional centers to qualify for incentives in 2001, the recession year of the dotcom bust. 

This was proof enough for Madhu that being trained in the right sales methodology can make all the difference during good and bad times. He quit his job and  embarked on his journey as a sales trainer with a mission to empower sales professionals and democratise sales excellence.

Training & Certification

  • SPIN Selling Technique from NIS Sparta
  • Inbound marketing Specialist from Hubspot
  • High-Performance Sales Teams from Neil Richardson, PA Consulting, UK
  • Experiential Trainer Certification from IIPE, Canada

Sectors & Clients

  • IT/Software– Oracle (Inside Sales), Wipro Infotech, Wipro Technologies
  • ITES/BPO – 247 Customer, First Source (ICICI OneSource), iSeva, Minacs (Transworks)
  • Manufacturing – Yokogawa, ADD Technologies (GPS Division)
  • Education /Edtech – ICFAI Business School,,
  • Automobile – TVS Motors, Toyota, Suzuki-Nepal
  • Healthcare / Medtech – Tricog Healthcare

Training Topics & Levels

  • Sales Skills (All levels)
  • Negotiation Skills (Entry and Mid-Management)
  • Key Account Sales (All Levels)
  • Presentation Skills (All levels)
  • Building high-performance sales teams (All levels)

With his comprehensive experience , unwavering dedication, and commitment to results, Madhu Shetty has become the go-to partner for organisations and sales professionals seeking to unlock their full potential and achieve remarkable success.

Through his customised training programmes and supplementary services, Madhu has consistently delivered transformative results, propelling his clients to the pinnacle of sales performance.

Tell us a little about yourself

Madhu Shetty: I hail from Bengaluru, where I completed my schooling and college education. Growing up in the 90s, the prevailing norm was that if you weren’t an engineer, you were simply “out.”

Growing up in a middle-class neighbourhood I felt totally ostracised when I scored poorly in my exams and didn’t make it to ‘engineering’ while the rest of my gang did, all four of them. Felt like the biggest loser.

All the while when I was battling this loser tag in my mind, I had no clue that I have been preparing myself for a career in ‘Engineering business conversations.’

Can you share your journey and what inspired you to pursue a career in sales training?

Madhu Shetty: While sales training can appear glamorous, the life of a sales representative isn’t always perceived that way, especially in India. Nevertheless, my perception changed dramatically during a part-time job at a Realty Expo.

I went from feeling like a loser in the morning to being Alexander the Great by evening, after selling a record number of villa plots 50 kms away from Bengaluru. Witnessing the gratitude and happiness of buyers transformed my outlook.

This experience, coupled with my role as a software sales rep for NIIT Technologies, solidified my conviction that sales skills were not just innate talents but learnable techniques.

In 2001, during the dotcom bust’s recession, while many sales professionals faltered, I stood among the very few to earn incentives. This highlighted the scientific aspect of sales and inspired me to democratize the acquisition of selling skills in India.

Armed with a 2-year PG Diploma in Sales and Marketing from the National Institute of Sales, I embarked on my journey as a full-fledged sales trainer, committed to empowering sales professionals. Over the last 2 decades I have had the opportunity to train in-person over 34,000 sales professionals from companies across 11 countries.

Sales is a dynamic and challenging field. What key qualities do you believe are essential for individuals aiming to excel in sales, and how do you help aspiring sales professionals cultivate these qualities?

Madhu Shetty: While there are several essential qualities one must have to excel in sales, I believe the following three are the most critical:

  1. Expert-level Knowledge of the industry, problems the product/service solves & the competition
  2. Specific Selling skill that suits their industry/product. A spade or a pick-axe is very good for digging small holes and ponds but you need a drill rig to dig a borewell. Similarly, selling techniques for selling small-value products are different from the ones used for high-value, big-ticket sales.
  3. Resilient Attitude to take rejections as your morning cup of coffee, to see the positive in your offering, day in and day out, in the face of stiff competition.

My training program is designed around these core qualities using a very specialized learning methodology called iDiscover Learning Methodology. Here, the learners are led to discover and acquire these qualities themselves rather than just being told or taught.

This has shown higher ownership of their learning and increased the chances of the actual implementation in the field. 

As a sales specialist trainer, you likely work with sales teams from various industries. How do you tailor your training programs to address the unique needs and challenges faced by different businesses?

Madhu Shetty: My approach involves intensive preparation, spending 2-4 days per training day to:

  1. Mystery Shopper Audit of the Client’s Sales process & also that of their top 3 competitors
  2. Interview the sales reps, their managers, and other stakeholders to understand their challenges
  3. Deep dive into their product training module and internet for a thorough understanding of their product
  4. Buyer / Non-Buyer Study – Speak to customers who have bought their products and ask their top reasons to buy and vice versa call and speak to about 50-100 prospects who have not bought and their reasons for choosing the other product/service

This meticulous groundwork enables me to pinpoint and tackle distinct challenges specific to each business.

Technology and digitalization are transforming the sales landscape. How do you incorporate these advancements into your training to help sales professionals adapt and thrive in the digital era?

Madhu Shetty: There are way too many products out there today and several of them are very good. I am constantly on the lookout for what’s new and what sales problems they solve.

I help companies and sales reps declutter all that is out there by broadly categorizing them into 3 areas – i) Lead Generation ii) Lead Management (Funnel) & iii) Sales Learning Management System.

Based on the level of sales maturity of the company and their goals I advise them of the pros & cons of the shortlisted tools, be it Salesforce, Leadsquared, Hubspot, Smartwinnr, Ambition etc

Sales can be a competitive field, and rejection is a common part of the process. How do you guide sales professionals to develop resilience and maintain a positive mindset even in the face of challenges?

Madhu Shetty: Approximately 70% of all interactions by a sales rep end up in rejections in some form or the other, from not answering the phone/email to I am busy, I am not interested etc.

To fortify this, my training includes experiential activities tailored to cultivate resilience and maintain a positive outlook. It is critical to bullet-proof oneself and their team against this productivity killer.

At Catalyst, we have special experiential activities targeted to forge a strong resilient attitude and remain positive under pressure.

The relationship between sales and customer service is crucial for long-term success. How do you emphasize the importance of building and nurturing customer relationships in your training programs?

Madhu Shetty: I encourage participants to calculate the Lifetime Value (LTV) of their existing customers, showcasing the benefits of cross-selling and up-selling to current clients vs having to find new clients. This approach underscores the significance of nurturing customer relationships.

Sales ethics and integrity are vital for building trust with customers. How do you instill these values in your training participants to promote ethical sales practices?

Madhu Shetty: My training employs experiential activities that delve into the “why” behind unethical practices, exposing their short-term and long-term consequences. This enables sales professionals to recognize, avoid, and address ethical dilemmas.

Sales training is an ongoing process. How do you encourage continuous learning and improvement among your training participants beyond the training sessions?

Madhu Shetty: A plethora of gamified apps are available today for sales enablement like Ambition, Smartwinnr, Spinify, Sales Screen etc which I advise them to study and adopt.

Also, while the sales technique taught in my workshops are benchmarked against the very best in the world, I list them out and urge them to explore other leading sales methodologies in the world, understand what each one has to offer. How are they similar? How are they different? What principles of influencing and persuasion are at play?

Lastly, I tell them that selling is nothing but winning people over to your side. So, one has innumerable opportunities around them to practice and master this skill with their colleagues, friends & family.

DO everything and BE the person that everybody would want on their side.

This could mean placing their interests before yours, thinking about their problems and how to make them succeed in their job.

By helping them up the ladder, notice who else is climbing up the ladder of success.

For individuals who may be considering a career in sales but are unsure, what advice would you give them, and how can proper sales training contribute to their success?

Madhu Shetty: Sales is a great career and has 3 unique benefits over others.

  1. Your contribution to the company is not hidden or ambiguous. It is visible and acknowledged every single month. No manager or senior can take away your contribution. Your performance can take you all the way to becoming a CEO of the company.

In fact, a LinkedIn survey of 12,000+ CEOs of companies across 20 countries revealed that the majority of the CEOs’ first job function was sales/business development rather than marketing, operations, finance or engineering functions.

  • Recession-proof career – Even during a recession there are more sales jobs available than other jobs since companies need sales to keep them afloat even during a recession.
  • Preps you to be an entrepreneur someday since you have the skill and experience to bring in sales which is the most critical part of running a company.

Finally, about the right sales training – research about the top sales techniques in the world and pick the one that resonates with you the most. Every few years invest in learning other sales techniques and continue to hone your skills because being able to influence or persuade others is the new super power!

Are you an Entrepreneur or Startup?
Do you have a Success Story to Share?
SugerMint would like to share your success story.
We cover entrepreneur Stories, Startup News, Women entrepreneur stories, and Startup stories

Read more Success stories of Indian entrepreneurs, Women Entrepreneurs & startups stories at SugerMint. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn