Class is in session: How Groupon sets new sales hires up for success

Every new sales member on Groupon enrolls in its sales university, where they practice client phone calls, role play and learn about what it takes to succeed at Groupon. We spoke to three sales team members about how the training program prepares the team for success. 

Written by Brian Nordli
Published on Jul. 25, 2018
Class is in session: How Groupon sets new sales hires up for success
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After nearly 10 years in sales, Kolby Banks thought he had seen it all when it came to sales onboarding programs. Then he joined Groupon , where all new hires are enrolled in Groupon Sales University for training.

“ The training program was a breath of fresh air for me,” Banks said.

The new, three-month course is designed to not only onboard new hires but to hone their soft and hard sales skills. We spoke to three salespeople to learn more about the training program and what makes for a successful salesperson at Groupon.


Groupon Office Space Cat
Photography by Allison Williams
Groupon Office lobby
Photography by Allison Williams
Groupon logo
Photography by Allison Williams



EMPLOYEES: 6,000 global (more than 1,500 local)

WHAT THEY DO: Groupon is a marketplace for local services, experiences and goods that aims to build stronger communities by connecting consumers with local businesses in their neighborhood.


PRESIDENT’S CLUB: Every year the top 5 percent of performers in each sales team and their guests are treated to a four-day stay in a tropical destination to recharge and celebrate.   

COMMUNITY CONNECTION: Groupon’s product team aims to help customers build relationships with their community through local businesses. Learn more.  


Alicia Babich Portrait


Alicia Babich, Manager of Sales Training and Development

Alicia Babich manages the sales training teams in Chicago and Phoenix. Her teams train new hires in business development, merchant development, merchant support and more. They’re also responsible for the Groupon Sales University.

BEYOND WORK: Alicia is a certified rape crisis counselor and medical advocate.


What trainings are in place to help a new salesperson succeed at Groupon?

Every new hire goes through a rigorous sales training program that starts on day one. The training starts with two weeks of classroom training, role play and on-the-phone practice followed by an additional 10 weeks of onboarding with a salesperson’s own book of business.

After graduation, salespeople are drafted into one of Groupon’s verticals and do month-over-month call coaching in small and large groups, as well as one-on-ones with their managers and sales trainers. This, in a nutshell, is Groupon Sales University.


Every new hire goes through a rigorous sales training program that starts on day one.”


What role did you play in shaping Groupon’s new sales training program?

In January 2017, Groupon Sales University didn’t exist. We initially had a three-month training program where new salespeople met once a week to ramp up. We decided to expand it to a 12-month curriculum designed to teach soft and hard sales skills to new hires, no matter their experience level.

One year later, we’ve launched our first full course at Groupon Sales University with our business development class. I was one of the first people to get to shape the program and name it. Now, my team gets to grow it, evolve it and expand it.


What is one objection salespeople receive consistently?

We often hear, “Not interested.” Our guts tell us to ask, “Why not?,” but that’s the last thing a person wants to hear after they reject you, and the last question they want to answer. Instead, we hear them out, ask a few quick questions to flip the conversation from a negative, emotional place to a positive, logical one. Then we pivot back to the pitch. We seek to understand first, then seek to be understood.


Carina Coss Portrait


Carina Coss, Business Marketing Executive

Carina Coss works to bring in new businesses for Groupon’s “Things to Do” vertical.

BEYOND WORK: Carina enjoys running and traveling.


Tell us about your background. What attracted you to Groupon?

My background is in public relations and global communications. Coming back from traveling, I knew that I wanted to pursue a career with a brand that had a local and global presence. Groupon fit that perfectly.


What does an average day look like for you on the sales team?

There are a lot of layers to my day, but each task is designed to make sure we are benefiting and profiting the most at work. I typically start my mornings off with housekeeping work, like making presentations for prospects, catching up on emails and checking my deals that have gone live.

After that, my team and I have a short meeting to go over our expectations and progress for the week. Then I move into prospecting mode and start dialing away until lunch. After lunch, we usually have training meetings get better at the sales process. I usually end the day with appointments.


The training helped me become more aware of the skills I already had and taught me the true essence of sales.”


How did Groupon’s sales training program help you?

I participated in Groupon’s sales training program earlier this year. It not only helped me improve my own professional abilities but also allowed me to grow in a different environment.

The training helped me become more aware of the skills I already had and taught me the true essence of sales. It was not easy, but it helped me realize I possessed the ability to connect with businesses and help them accomplish their goals. I graduated from the program as valedictorian, which reinforced the fact that I was moving in the right direction and with the right support system at Groupon.


Team at play

Team discussions


MORE ON GROUPONHow Groupon's product team connects people to their community


What qualities makes someone successful on your team?

There are many ways a person can become successful on this team. Success isn’t attributed to one trait or one action, it’s a combination of work ethic, organization, perseverance and individuality. It’s also crucial to ask for help and guidance. Without the help and mentorship of others, it’s hard to be successful.


Kolby at work

Kolby Banks Portrait


Kolby Banks, Business Development Rep

Kolby Banks is responsible for researching new accounts that will make for great partners and showing them the value of partnering with Groupon.

BEYOND WORK : Kolby enjoys playing paintball.


What is one objection salespeople receive consistently? How do you overcome it?

Time is a big one. People often say they are too busy to talk. During one call, I had a merchant rush to say she didn’t have the time and that we were too expensive after my spiel. I jumped in asking for a minute to explain how Groupon can be different and a benefit for her business. Thirty minutes later, that contract was closed.


Nobody wins if just one person has all the secrets.”


How does teamwork play out on the sales team?

Nobody wins if just one person has all the secrets. We have teams all around us that are looking to top us in sales. Our team knows that everyone wants to be better and improve. We respect our managers and put the work in every day to accomplish that goal. I don’t think any of us like to be last. I definitely do not.


What was your experience in the Groupon sales training program?

The training program was a breath of fresh air for me. I’ve been in sales for almost 10 years. Typically, you get the same training presented in different ways based on the company. At Groupon, I was able to see it from a different point of view. It made me challenge myself and want to be better.


MORE ON GROUPONHow Groupon's product team connects people to their community

Responses have been edited for clarity and length.

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