Beware of Hiring the Golden Child

The Golden Child interviews well, but fails to meet your expectations.  You struggle to hire good salespeople but experience frustration when they fail to achieve their sales goals. Here is another example of a typical 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 – one with a lot of existing customers who buy a lot and buy often. So, despite their lack of selling skills and personal skills, they are usually the top performing sales rep on their sales team. When they apply for a job at your company, they bring with them what appears to be a stellar sales history; an enviable candidate for your sales team. Be very careful. Here’s why…

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, may appear to be full of confidence, 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. (Everyone else likes them too.)

What you don’t see

What you don’t see is why they were successful. In reality, 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 these external factors and not 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. They simply show up at their customers office and get a sale.

What you actually get

If you hire them, you’ll get a very mediocre sales rep resulting in poor prospecting activity, a weak pipeline, low sales, plenty of disillusionment, and a lot of 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.