Sheldon Wray has been a Product Manager for Advanced Technology Products at Lincoln Electric for the past decade. Hear his story on how he went from engineering to sales, and how engineers are perfect for those technical sales roles.
Sheldon was an engineering student at Cal Poly Pomona in Southern California. When one day, he decided to go to a career fair to browse around and see what was out there.
As he walked around, he noticed a recruiter who was without a tent. Because it was Southern California in early fall, the recruiter was getting killed in the sweltering heat. Naturally, no students wanted to join him in the heat, except Sheldon who felt bad and decided to brave the heat. Sheldon struck up a conversation with the recruiter, not thinking that anything would come of it.
He noticed that the recruiter was from Lincoln Electric, and that stood out to him. Sheldon took a few welding classes at a local community college, as something that was interesting to do. But, that ended up playing a key role in his success in his technical sales career.
At the time, as an engineering student, Sheldon thought he was on a path to be an engineer. Unbeknownst to him, engineering can lead to many different careers, and one of those being technical sales. Sheldon was drawn in and intrigued by the idea of a career in sales when the recruiter shared that he was an electrical engineer, and currently working in sales.
“Well, there are more to sales than just, you know, being salesmen, we actually need people who are very technical, but also know how to build relationships and understand customer problems,” the recruiter said to Sheldon.
But, Sheldon still had his hesitancies. He enjoyed engineering, and sales seemed like a big career shift. But, he eventually gave in and decided to have a formal interview with the recruiter.
During that formal interview a few days later, the recruiter didn’t look at the coding work Sheldon had done, but instead spoke about his hobbies and interests. Then, the recruiter asked if he would be interested in working in Cleveland, Ohio. Sheldon was not interested in moving to Ohio, he wanted to stay in Los Angeles. So, the recruiter offered him a trip to Ohio and if Sheldon didn’t like it, it is still a trip to a place he’d never been before!
“Once I came to Cleveland, and once I saw what they were up to and Lincoln Electric. Once I met the people and the people is a big part of it, I was convinced that I have to work for this company,” Sheldon said.
Sheldon was fortunate enough to receive an offer and spent nine months working in Cleveland, Ohio in the engineering training program. Now, Sheldon has spent almost a decade with the company. He started off as a Technical Sales Engineer and worked his way up to be a Senior Technical Sales Engineer. Currently, he is a Product Manager – Advanced Technology Products.
“Technical sales is a lot more than the sales transaction, 99% of it is building relationships, understanding your customer needs, and coming up with solutions, which is exactly why a lot of people chose engineering – to come up with solutions,” Sheldon said.