Groupon, one of the fastest-growing companies in memory, is a sales organization at heart.
That's one of many things it has in common with Google, the latest reported suitor of the red-hot startup.
About half of the 2,600 workers in the Chicago-based startup are in sales – booking retailers and restaurants the world over for the firm's daily discount e-mail blasts.
Groupon continues to hire heavily, according to spokesperson Julie Mossler. At its Chicago headquarters, for example, it has been signing on 125 new workers per month, mostly in sales, Mossler said.
And you don't necessarily need a sales background. "What you need to love is being creative and being a people-person," said Sunjay Agtey, an account executive who used to be in accounting.
You also have the option of working from home. Agtey, who telecommutes from Boston, said that he spends most of his workday on the phone. "I'm calling merchants and chambers of commerce and doing some reading," he said.
Once a Groupon salesperson finds a merchant they like, they set up a deal that is based on what consumers are interested in that will also be beneficial to the vendor. Most of all, the deal has to "tip" – that is, get enough people to buy it so it is actually honored by the vendor – the "group" part of "Groupon." Almost all of the deals tip.
Rheannon Gerlach, an account executive who works in the Chicago headquarters, said the job is a lot of fun. Gerlach, who generally calls on clients in California, spends much of her day scanning Facebook, Twitter and other sites to see what businesses people are buzzing about. She also travels frequently to meet merchants face-to-face.
Agtey points out that Groupon's main customer demographic -- ages 18 to 34 –are the same age as most of its workers. "So it's very casual, very fun, and everyone's in constant communication," he said.
Though the company declined to detail compensation, Agtey said salespeople garner a base salary plus commission, based on how much they sell. There is a lot of training for new hires -- Agtey estimates about two weeks of formal training up front and additional sporadic coaching later on.
The company has generated buzz since it launched two years ago in Chicago, followed closely by offerings in Boston, New York and Toronto. Groupon now offers daily deals in 300 markets across 29 countries, and is reportedly valued at $1.3 billion.
Not surprisingly, Groupon has drawn the interest of potential bidders. Yahoo was reportedly putting together a $3 billion bid, before issues over pricing shut down the deal. Now, Google is allegedly setting money on the table – far more than Yahoo, according to All Things Digital.
The pair certainly seem to fit culturally. Groupon's limber workforce would no doubt like to tool around on the scooters that Google has scattered throughout its New York office. And Google, which knows a thing or two about targeted marketing, is probably keen to grab a bigger slice of the $133 billion hyper-local ad market.
Write to Shareen Pathak
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