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Help Wanted: Daily Deal Websites Are Hiring

(iStockphoto)

Attention, moms: daily deal websites want you. That is, they want to hire you.

While most daily deal operators have an internal sales force scouting for the next deeply discounted deal, a handful of these companies are employing members of the communities they serve.

If the community is involved, they figure, not only will they land deals that members actually want but also ones that are of a higher quality. An added bonus: the strategy helps keep costs down, since most sites pay on a commission basis or, in one case, in the form of free deal coupons.

“This is effective because the interaction on the local level is so sticky,” said Megan Gardner, Chief Executive of San Francisco, Calif.-based daily deal operator Plum District, which caters to moms and has a sales force made up of moms.

Plum District started by inviting moms to participate in focus groups, but quickly realized that employing them to land the deals would be more effective. After all, says Gardner, many of these moms are active in their communities and looking for deals is part of their everyday lives.

Plum District pays on a commission basis, a percentage of the deals brought to the website, so how well you do depends on the popularity of the deal and how many deals you bring in. “There are moms brining in a deal every other week that pull in $15,000 a year and women who work full time and have six-figure salaries by averaging two to three deals a week at a minimum,” says Gardner. “The women decide the right makeup.”

Plum District structures its sale force of moms similar to the Avon and May Kay model. When the site launches in a region, Plum District hires a regional manager who goes out and recruits moms. As Plum District grows in the region, it is divided into districts. For instance, New York City has an uptown district and a downtown one. Each district has five to ten moms scouting for deals. Plum District also has district consultants working with the regional manager and ambassadors to hook up contacts with moms looking for deals. The consultant, regional manager and ambassador share the commissions with the local sales force.

User generated deals come with perks

SignPost, the New York-based deal website operator that lets users post existing deals from others websites, has recently started encouraging users to create deals with local merchants that are unique to SignPost.  The idea is that the user introduces a local merchant to SignPost, gets the merchant to create a deal and in return, the user gets access to more free deals from that merchant or other merchants in the area, says Stuart Wall, the chief executive officer of SignPost.

Interested people can apply to be a so-called Deal Scout at http://bit.ly/g8EETq. If anything, signing up will get you “a crate full of Signpost SWAG: T-shirts, stickers, flyers, Scout business cards,” says Wall. And you won’t have to jump into it blindly: SignPost will send you tips on introducing businesses to the service.

Unlike Groupon and other daily deal websites where the terms are already set, SignPost lets the merchant set how many of the deals it wants to sell and whether it will be a single-day event or run over several days. Wall says that user-generated deals tend to be of higher quality. “It’s less about creating an aggressive sales force and more about helping a business you know,” says Wall. SignPost is still playing around with the commissions for user-generated deals, but Wall says the service is currently testing rewarding users with free deals, such as getting a free deal after recruiting a business to post a deal.

User recommendations turn into deals

Atlanta, Ga.-based ScoutMob offers mobile deals in Atlanta, San Francisco and New York, with the twist that consumers only pay for deals when they redeem them. It has an internal sale force, but also relies on user recommendations when offering the next deal. In addition to hiring sales people, ScoutMob asks its community what places they want to see deals for and a lot of the offers are a result of that.

While you won’t become the next billionaire scouting for daily deals, ScoutMob co-founder Michael Tavani says people can make good money doing it. So what do the daily deal websites want in a salesperson? According to Tavani, anyone who has worked with local merchants or sold to a local merchant would be the right kind of candidate. Keep in mind, the popularity of these sites has made employment competition fierce.

Oh, and if you’re a techie who lives in Silicon Valley, Groupon is hiring at its Palo Alto office, which it recently announced with a giant billboard.