Name: Freedom Shannon
Title: External Divisional Sales Manager, New Business Development, Restaurants
Start Date: April 2011
You’ve been with Groupon since 2011, so you’ve obviously seen a lot of organizational changes. How do you balance pivoting with the company while still kicking butt in an Outside Sales role?
Staying focused and never forgetting our mission is to help businesses grow and make life less boring for our customers. Regardless of the changes, you just have to roll with the punches and stay focused on what you have control over. Another key to pivoting is staying on top of the changes and knowing how those changes affect your position.
What are some common misconceptions about running a Groupon campaign?
There are two common misconceptions about running a Groupon campaign:
- Restaurants, more than any other vertical, believe it will damage their brand. Someone recently compared Groupon to a hotel yield management system. Groupon connects businesses directly with consumers. For example, if you’re a customer looking at Expedia or Hotels.com and see a Ritz Carlton ad placed next to a Motel 6, your impression of the Ritz doesn’t change.
- There are many restaurant owners who still believe they will lose money running on Groupon. Groupon is an advertising vehicle, and the most cost-effective customer acquisition tool there is on the market. Groupon not only takes the cost of goods into consideration when developing an incentive to ensure it makes financial sense, we customize campaigns to ensure the image restaurant owners have built stays in tact. We leverage the reputation they have built to attract new faces and keep current customers coming back.
The value of Groupon to both restaurants and customers is the win-win-win scenario. A customer gets to try a great new place with no risk, the restaurant gets to showcase what they’re known for and allow someone to have a real experience vs reading or hearing about it.
What’s unique about you that sets you apart from other Sales leaders?
Tough question. I still learn so much every day from other sales leaders in the organization, and all of us have different backgrounds and experiences. There are two qualities I admire in a leader so I try to adhere to them: empathy and dependability. People confuse sympathy and empathy. Empathy means understanding where people are coming from and putting yourself in their shoes. If you’re able to do this, it gives you the ability to help them grow and remove barriers to success. The other is being dependable. If I say I’m going to do something, I do it. I like to think I’m always there for my reps, managers, and merchants even nights, weekends, and holidays. With a team that is in the field, they need to know I am only a phone call away.
As an Outside Divisional Sales Manager, you (and your team) are obviously physically far from headquarters; how do you maintain that sense of Groupon culture and mission while out in the field?
The Groupon culture is like a collaborative family. Regardless of our roles, we are all here to help each other. Although we are remote, we still have weekly team meetings and thanks to technology we can be on camera sharing success stories. We have team get-togethers, meeting for breakfast or lunch, and occasionally have Groupon Cupcake Takeovers where we get together and deliver cupcakes to some of our top merchants. The team of individuals I get to work with daily are driven, smart, hard-working, and bleed green.
Do you have any favorite merchant stories that stand out?
Oh, my. There are so many! One that stands out is when I was still a rep here at Groupon. I was sitting with a high-end restaurant owner and he was concerned that running a Groupon would damage his brand. The ROI made sense, but he was still on the fence. While sitting there, another restaurant owner I personally worked with walked in. They were friends. The guy sits down next to me, gets a cup of coffee and starts raving about how much Groupon has helped his business. He was seeing new faces, customers would overspend, and then he turned and actually hugged me. Knowing Groupon helped his business felt like a buzzer winning last minute shot in a basketball game.
Favorite Groupon memory?
My favorite memory is still from my first week of training. I was in Chicago, stressed because there is so much to learn and so much information. One night I went out with a few people from our training class, and other Groupon staff. Midway through the night, we were in a bar and Florence + the Machine’s song, “Dog Days Are Over” came on. It seemed everyone was singing, dancing, and having a good time. The next morning, we were all right back to work. I knew this is where I belonged!