Hiring A Salesperson: No Welding Skills Needed

Industry insiders argue that welding is not a skill required for sales success.

A Tale of Two GenerationsRecently, Welding & Gases Today surveyed people in the industry to find out what they thought about welding skills and salespeople. Specifically, we asked: “Does a salesperson need welding skills in order to successfully sell welding equipment?” Distributor and supplier members made their voices heard through their votes and their comments in the Welding & Gases Today group on LinkedIn.

The responses are surprising. They varied from distributor to supplier, and of course salespeople and service techs.

Below are some of the reasons why industry experts do NOT think a salesperson needs to have technical welding skills to be successful.

“A good salesperson, if they have the right profile and attitude, can be very successful without welding skills, and even more so than a technical person cloned as a salesperson. I would rate as a better system a good salesperson with a good technical support system behind him/her, than an average salesperson with good welding skills/knowledge.”
- Wayne Holt, CEO at Gas Management Solutions

“When I started in 1960, MIG welding was in its infancy. I learned to excel at welding and it has been a huge part of any success I have enjoyed. That said, many of the top salesmen I have known in my long career have been ‘people’ people. They used me when they needed technical help and never had any interest in learning technology beyond who to trust when they needed help.”
- Bryant Reed, partner at Advanced Welding Sales

“Anyone involved in welding sales (inside or outside sales) has to be willing to learn, and can’t be afraid to ask someone who has more product knowledge or look up the appropriate information from a dependable resource. There are so many resources about welding and welding products that it’s easy to find information needed to help customers efficiently.”
- Jessica Noll, inside sales at Techniweld

“Product knowledge is the key to recognizing customers’ needs and understanding how to assist them when they have a problem. You do not have to be a welder, just very knowledgeable in your products. A sales team may have one person who is more knowledgeable in filler metals, another in gas processes and yet another in machines. This is where a team effort works to attain and maintain accounts comes in.”
- John Belden, welding supply industry member since 1969

“The short answer is No. It helps if you have backup. Time will give you the experience you need.”
- John Gault, owner at Applied Welding Technology

“In my experience the process of selling is the most important component—the ability to win the trust of your customer. Having the customer demonstrate THEIR welding needs can lead you to the discussion of what they need. Being able to weld may be an asset but being able to identify their need in the situation and capabilities is more important.”
- N.S.

Next week, Welding & Gases Today will look at the other side of the coin and hear from distributors and suppliers who say technical welding skills do factor into a salesperson’s success. Hear why one industry member says, “There are too many salesman selling coffee machines who can’t make coffee.” We’ll reveal the final vote and see which side came out on top.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association