JAY ZANDSTRA

Sales Trainer
Chicago, IL
Joined: 2014

Sales trainer, bike wrencher, and inspirational quote ninja, Jay lives for helping new sales reps make the connections they need to be successful.

What was your first impression of Groupon as an employer?

This place is wild, who puts a cat in a spaceship in their lobby?

Tell us about your job! What do you do? What do you love about it? What does a typical day look like?

My job is divided into multiple parts. One part is taking new hires through their first few weeks of onboarding them to the Groupon world. The other is developing reps in their first 12 months in the sales role with our Groupon Sales University track. The best part of my job *warning, cheesy answer coming* is getting reps to that light bulb moment of “I can do this, I can really #*$%ing do this!” Sales is a job that has highs and lows. Getting reps through that first low and into a stretch of wins is the moment I’m always chasing after.

Who inspires you?

Teddy Roosevelt. His life was a constant stream of goals and challenges. I keep a quote at my desk that roughly says, “Ignore the negatives because true value comes from those who try, and try greatly, because there is far more honor in the pursuit, regardless of the outcome than those who never dare.” Stop by and read the whole thing sometime, it’s worth it.

How does your work impact Groupon’s mission of building the daily habit in local commerce?

We develop reps with skills to level the playing field with small businesses. We can take that local mechanic who’s been in business for 40 years and give that business a fair fight against the “big chain oil change place” on the corner who’s budget to advertise is much bigger. We give that local shop a louder, more compelling voice that those big players.

Describe the proudest moment you’ve had at Groupon.

I was working on the Home & Auto team and we were working to improve our skills with the opening statement through the extending the conversation portion of the sales process. Our logic was that if we could improve this portion of the process, we could lower how many dials we needed to set one appointment. With that structure we were able to measure an impactful change in skill and could connect that change to their outputs. We saw reps drop their dials to appointments set from an average of 56 to 47. Some reps even got to under 30 dials to set an appointment. That drop in dials is a direct result of them improving their sales skills. This means they can set more appointments, close more contracts and earn more money.

So how did you go about moving from Sales to Sales Training?

My trip through Groupon started with being a sales rep for Oklahoma City. After selling there for about six months, Groupon made the change to having a designated Business Development (hunter) and Merchant Development (farmer) side. I went the route of Merchant Development and when we verticalized, I was placed on the Health, Beauty, and Wellness vertical. I made the switch to training after selling in the HBW world for about a year and a half. Having gone through Inbound sales, GOB, business development, and merchant development a broad perspective helps with understanding the full sales cycle of a merchant and relaying that perspective to show how each role is important to the big picture of connecting locals with local businesses.

Can you talk about the Sales Training team? 

Sales Training consists of two groups: new hire training and continued education. I work on the new hire side with a team of four excellent people with Alicia Babich as our manager. This quarter we are on pace to train about 60 reps in various sales roles: Inbound, Merchant Development, Business Development and Groupon+.

“The best part of my job (warning: cheesy answer coming) is getting reps to that light bulb moment of ‘I can do this, I can really #*$%ing do this!'”

What’s the most challenging thing you’ve worked on here so far?

The biggest challenge so far has been building out the GSU program for reps in their first 12 months here in the Business Development world. The program didn’t come with an instruction manual, so our challenge was to pinpoint the areas that made reps most successful on the phones and quantify those skills and put that into a training program for new reps. It may be the most challenging but is becoming the most rewarding seeing reps develop those skills and their performance then reflect it.

Your role probably exists at other companies aside from Groupon…so what makes your role at Groupon unique?

Truthfully, it’s the people I work next to every day. The training team has such a broad range of talents that it’s never difficult to find somebody that has been where you are before and can help with whatever you need. It’s their willingness to jump at the problem without any reservations is what makes me stay, easily the people.

Why should a recent grad or seasoned sales professional join Groupon’s Sales org?

The people. Whether it’s managers or coworkers, there are great people here. Get to know them and learn from them. They want you to succeed. That mentality doesn’t exist in every sales environment.

You probably have a life outside Groupon; what are you up to when you’re not at work?

My main hobby is spending quality time with my wife. She works nights in the city so we can often spot each other on the highway to and from work. In my free time you can find me working/riding on a cafe racer motorcycle project I started a few years ago.

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be and why?

I think it would be something more hands-on, building something like custom motorcycles. Having a small shop in a sort of co-op setting where the owners of the bikes can learn and help wrench on their bikes alongside trained mechanics and fabricators.

What’s your favorite local business?

His name is Joe and he owns Performance Cycle down the street from where I live. You can walk in and tell him three things about the problem you have and he’ll have the tools and parts in front of you in two minutes to solve that problem. He has taught me almost everything I know about wrenching on old bikes. The man use to drag race dual engine motorcycles in the 70’s!