Shahzad Chagani runs operations for PE Energy, a Houston, Texas-based supplier of industrial equipment and supplies. The company collects leads online from worldwide B2B buyers and relies on its Columbia-based sales team to convert them into customers.

“Colombia is pretty Westernized,” Chagani told me. “We find a lot of college-educated talent there.”

In our recent conversation, Chagani addressed his backend setup for 100,000 SKUs, the benefits of an offshore sales staff, and more. The entire audio of our discussion is embedded below. The transcript is edited for length and clarity.

Eric Bandholz: Tell us who you are.

Shahzad Chagani: I’m the director of operations for PE Energy in Houston, Texas. We sell industrial equipment and supplies. I’ve been running the company for 10 years. About 80% of our revenue is B2B, with 15% via ecommerce.

We sell parts and equipment for manufacturing, construction, and other industrial uses. Our products weigh as little as one ounce to thousands of pounds. We specialize in American-made items. We have customers worldwide and our own inside sales team to serve them.

We carry about 100,000 SKUs. We don’t white label or make the products ourselves. We do a lot of dropshipping with our suppliers. We mainly specialize in consumable products for repeat orders, such as filters and lubrication. That’s where the highest margins are.

We have feeds from our suppliers that sync into our store, spec sheets, and inventory details. Our website drives a lot of inquiries. Buyers go to the site and then request a quote.

The site uses WordPress and Shopify. It mostly drives leads rather than direct purchases. We have a “request a quote” section on all product pages. We’ll receive those leads and arrange custom pricing depending on the buyer.

We use DataFeedWatch for our inventory control. There are several similar data feed providers. We maintain a single master inventory file that connects to QuickBooks Enterprise, our ERP. Whenever a product is sold or lead times change, DataFeedWatch updates our system — even on Amazon, eBay, and Shopify — to let customers know.

Bandholz: Walk us through your sales training for so many products.

Chagani: It comes down to education and product knowledge to respond meaningfully to quotes. It takes about 90 days to learn our system. All leads come through Zendesk. We have our own customized customer management platform. It has all the price sheets, weights, everything. It also provides allowable discounts depending on the quantities and customer type.

We have seven inside sales members. Most work full-time and are based in Colombia. I find them using LinkedIn Jobs. It’s nice to go back annually and bring everyone together for training. It makes customer service so much better.

They’re all working remotely from different cities in Colombia. The team makes deals on the phone, emails, or even WhatsApp. Our business is global; we communicate by any means necessary.

Colombia is pretty Westernized. We find a lot of college-educated talent there. Their English is awesome. I make sure. It has a big impact on our customers and vendors.

Our hiring process is this. We create a post on LinkedIn Jobs for Colombia. We link from the post to our site to fill out an application. If the applicant looks qualified, I’ll jump on a video call with that person.

People in Columbia and similar countries just want an opportunity.

Bandholz: How are they paid?

Chagani: They’re all hungry and money-driven. We have a commission structure. We use last year’s monthly numbers divided by the number of reps to ensure they hit our overall goal.

The commission for each person is tier-based. Higher tiers earn a higher commission. We pay a base of $7 to $8 per hour. I have reps hitting $2,000 to $6,000 per month on top of their base. They’re so good. Earning $72,000 per year in Colombia is phenomenal.

Bandholz: When do you know to hire a new sales rep?

Chagani: I look at the leads. If customers aren’t being cared for, I’ll find more talent. I keep the LinkedIn Jobs ad running 24/7 at a $4 per day spend.

Bandholz: Where can people follow you or reach out?

Chagani: Our site is I’m on LinkedIn and email.

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