In late 2021, the American Welding Society launched a new online course called “Solution Selling for Welding.” As the world of welding, manufacturing, and fabrication continues to evolve and become more competitive, the success of any organization often hinges on the strength of its salesforce. The Solution Selling for Welding Course was designed to help develop highly knowledgeable and effective sales personnel. Created in tandem with welding industry experts with decades of sales and engineering experience, this course focuses on two key aspects: foundational welding concepts and the “solution selling” methodology. Collectively, this provides welding salespeople with a strong, well-rounded foundation of technical knowledge and helps them incorporate a sales approach centered around solving problems and adding value.

GAWDA and AWS have partnered to offer this valuable resource to GAWDA members. With the entire industry facing a labor shortage, this course can help GAWDA distributors enhance its sales staff. AWS Executive Director and CEO Gary Konarska II and GAWDA Executive Director John Ospina were gracious enough to answer some questions about the course and this partnership We thank them both for their help in putting this together.

Welding & Gases Today: Can you describe what the “Solution Selling for Welding” program is and how it specifically benefits welding distributors?

Gary Konarska: The “Solution Selling for Welding” online course is designed to help develop highly knowledgeable and effective sales professionals. The overarching purpose is to teach future welding sales professionals how to identify and reconcile potential clients’ needs by using a problem-led approach to product and service sales. Moreover, the program aims to improve future welding sales professionals’ sales acumen, an in-depth review of assessing present state, formulating meaningful solutions, and delivering a compelling sales message to their customers.

The course is broken down into two main parts:

  1. Fundamental welding concepts and technical information
  2. The methodology of solution selling

The first part of the course provides the learner with a meaningful understanding of the fundamentals, safety guidelines, equipment, and consumables for the five “main” welding processes (SMAW, GMAW, GTAW, FCAW, and SAW) and three “main” cutting processes (OFC, PAC, and CAC-A). 

The second part of the course covers the concept of “solution selling” and teaches individuals how to translate their welding knowledge and expertise into an effective sales approach centered around solving problems and adding value.

WGT: Can you describe the origins of the program and how the idea for this came about?

GK: Survey results indicated that the content currently covered in our Welding Sales Representative and Economics of Welding online courses cover the breadth of theoretical knowledge required for sales teams. To bolster the content covered in those courses, AWS built upon these concepts by reviewing fundamental sales principles and diving deeper into solution selling, specifically. Since the primary goal of this course is to provide additional training for anyone seeking to improve their sales acumen; an in-depth review of assessing present state, formulating meaningful solutions, and delivering them in a compelling manner were developed to increase client receptivity. By anchoring the course with a call to action, asking learners to navigate scenario-based questions armed with the concepts learned through course study, the cognitive level was elevated from lower-level cognitive load to the higher levels of application and synthesis of the content. 

WGT: How did GAWDA become involved with this program and how do you feel that it will benefit GAWDA members?

John Ospina: GAWDA and AWS serve the same industry in different ways. We’ve partnered in the past on other programs. AWS Executive Director Gary Konarska and I saw this as a good opportunity to provide a valuable service to our distributor members. The program provides a discounted price for members of GAWDA and also to members that belong to both associations. GAWDA-only members get a one-year complimentary membership to AWS, which allows them to explore the full suite of services that AWS offers. We’re thrilled to have AWS as an industry partner.

GK: A Voice of Customer initiative was launched to see whether there was a need in the market. One of those voices was none other than GAWDA Executive Director John Ospina. After John confirmed the need in the marketplace, we agreed to discuss again once the product was complete about ways for GAWDA and AWS to collaborate on the new product. The members of GAWDA have been facing the challenge of on-boarding new sales professionals, often without a welding background, for many years. By offering the program through GAWDA, we are working to provide more value to the members.

WGT: The program was created “with the support of welding industry experts with decades of sales and engineering experience.” Was there any one common message that came from this input? Any common issues or mistakes that newcomers to the industry made that the course will help address?

GK: The common thread was a lack of knowledge and understanding from new sales representatives. “They don’t know what they don’t know.” SMEs drove home the imperative need for specific knowledge, like how to improve production processes, not just selling your equipment. They stated that anyone can buy equipment online without the need for a representative. What they want is information on how to save money, increase productivity, and improve quality. That takes skill and experience beyond what most sales professionals have. If you’re able to provide consultative sales to your customer, they will ultimately buy from you, even if not immediately.

WGT: Who is the ideal target audience for this course?

GK: While the primary audience are new sales professionals without prior welding knowledge, even experienced sales professionals have found value in the program. The case studies presented offer a way to add more “arrows in the quiver” to gain even more loyal customers.

WGT: Anything else about this course that you would like to add?

GK: This course is brand agnostic and developed to instill a comprehensive understanding of welding principles in a sales force and teach them how to make insightful observations and provide meaningful, tailored solutions to both existing and potential clients. If you are hiring, or have hired, new sales professionals, the Solution Selling for Welding should definitely be added to your onboarding process!

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