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Interview - Shahzad Sufi, Ecommerce Sales Manager UK, Netgear
Friday, July 15, 2016, by Mark Hardaker is now worth more than Walmart after a recent surge in its stock price following record results.The Seattle-based company reported a 19.9 per cent rise in quarterly revenue, adding $7bn to the $34.7bn fortune of founder Jess Bezos. The firm reported a profit of $92 million for the second quarter of 2015 and revenue rose to $23.19 billion from $19.34 billion. One key supplier contributing to the online retailers growth is global networking company, Netgear. The company’s UK online sales team is led by Shahzad Sufi, ecommerce sales manager and data expert who ensures Netgear’s products are never ‘out of stock’ on the Amazon website, while making sure the retail giant receives all the information it needs. 

Shahzad started his career teaching English in Japan followed by a year in the UK as a marketing executive for book publisher Kogan Page. He then spent two years with GlaxoSmithKline in a similar position before joining Remington, the personal care manufacturer. 

It was here that a manager suggested Shahzad try a sales role and he quickly progressed to overseeing the company’s Amazon, Tesco and Superdrug accounts. Four successful years later, he joined Epson the electronics company, helping increase the company’s Amazon sales from £3m to £16m within six years. In January this year, he left Epson to become sales manager at Netgear, an American-based company that provides networking products to consumers, businesses and service providers. Iperium met Shahzad to talk about his relationship with Amazon, the differences between marketing and sales and his surprising aversion to social media. 

IP: Tell us about your current role

My role is to maximise the sales opportunities Netgear have with Amazon and ensure business planning, forecasting and promotions are fulfilled to their maximum potential. My responsibility is to grow our presence on Amazon while reducing the risk of ‘out of stocks’ which is a key challenge, so I have to make sure they have the right amount of information and statistics to ensure they are ordering enough products in time, on time, and every time.

IP: What’s interesting about what Netgear offer?

From a consumer perspective, it’s all about the ‘internet of things’ where everything has to be connected. It’s interesting to see this seamless integration of devices in the home, yet what will be even more interesting is how this helps towards peoples daily lives and whether it becomes intrusive or not. People are getting used to being permanently connected so it’s going to be exciting to see what other products will be integrated within the boom we are seeing at the moment.

IP: You switched mid-career from a marketing role to a sales position. How are finding the change?

There’s an old question that asks ‘what is the difference between marketing and sales’? Marketing is about trying to sell the USP’s and benefits to the customer, whereas sales is to target the customers who didn’t know they needed a solution and make sure these solutions exist. So really it’s matching up a demographic with a target. It’s all well and good target marketing a product, but if you’re not targeting the right customer to make them aware of what’s available then it’s pointless.
There should be a seamless integration between marketing and sales, as with serendipity – you don’t know you need a device until we put it under your nose and ask ‘do you know what this can do’?

IP: How did Iperium help you?

They found me out of the blue. If you searched for me online you won’t find a single piece of information. I don’t ‘do’ social media or LinkedIn as I don’t like that kind of intrusiveness. When David [Iperium Director] phoned me I was shocked, he had found out I looked after the Amazon account at Epson and called to tell me about Netgear and the type of person they were looking for. In fairness to David, I was initially bordering on being quite rude to him about how he had found my details and if it was the other way round, I would have probably put the phone down. However, he persevered and we had a few conversations and I eventually went for an interview and thought ‘wow this is great’ and everything fell into place.

IP: So is it okay for us to publish this article online?

When you initially approached me about this interview I was filled with trepidation. Did I really want to be out there where people can Google my name? Yet I’m open to change, maybe I need to view social media in a different way and I’ve had many people suggesting I should be on LinkedIn so this might be my one claim to fame.

IP: What advice would you give to someone considering a move to another company?

I’d say have an open attitude because no matter how well you think you’re doing there’s always opportunities out there. This role was a big wake up call for me because prior to this I thought I would have ended up retiring at Epson. It was a nice place and a safe bet and you’re in your comfort zone. I hadn’t really heard of Netgear and initially thought ‘why would I want to move to a smaller networking company from a global organisation’? David’s phone call helped me take into account what I was doing, where I was going and what I really wanted from life, as opposed to resigning yourself to what you have at that present time. The one thing that drove me to Netgear was the entrepreneurial spirit and I’m glad I followed my instincts with this opportunity because I think they are few and far between. I was impressed by David’s perseverance and professionalism and he was phenomenal in his skill set to be able to match me up with the company. The working atmosphere here is fantastic, we work as a team going for the one main goal which is to hit numbers, achieve and earn.

IP: Anything you would like to add?

Yes, David still owes me a lunch but he’s not come through with it yet.