Beware of Hiring the Golden Child

In this series, I identify a group of sales candidates who you might hire, but fail to meet expectations. They all have one thing on common: they interview well.

You struggle to hire good salespeople but experience frustration when they fail to achieve their sales goals. Here is another example of a type of sales candidate you’ll want to avoid…

The Golden Child

The golden child is a mediocre salesperson who consistently exceeds their sales goals because they sell within a rich (golden) territory. Despite their lack of effective personnel and selling skills, they are usually the top performing sales rep on their sales team.

What you see

Their personality style can be wide ranging from extrovert to introvert. In many cases, they are an outgoing and charming person. They interview well and can provide you with proof of consistently exceeding their sales quotas.

What you assume

This sales candidate has a proven track record of success at their previous job. Therefore, you assume they will transfer that success to your organization when you hire them. You quickly move them through your hiring process. With great anticipation you look forward to more sales, quota achievement and an expanding customer base.

What you don’t see

You don’t see why they were successful. What happened was they inherited a “golden territory” with rich accounts. This can be due to low level competition in the region or an existing customer base built by the previous salesperson. It can also be from short-term product differentiation and/or short-term price differentiation. A golden child’s success is a result of external factors and their inherent ability to sell. Again, they are mediocre and could never be successful without inheriting the existing customers within their rich territory which were developed by the previous salesperson in that role.

Bottom line, this candidate is not wired for prospecting, qualifying, uncovering value, negotiation or new account acquisition. They cannot replicate their previous success in your organization. They simply do not have the capacity, motivation or skills to do it.

What you actually get

You hire a very mediocre sales rep resulting in poor prospecting activity, a weak pipeline, low sales, and plenty of disillusionment and frustration on your part.

Always investigate why a salesperson was successful in their previous job. Use an in-depth sales assessment tool to help you uncover the hidden attributes that contribute to a sales rep’s success or failure. This is especially useful when they appear to be an ideal candidate. And if you want to learn more about what a good sales rep looks like, check out this article.