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Eyes On The Prize

Thinking about making your top salesperson a department manager? You'd better look beyond the obvious.

Selecting a sales manager may be the second most important decision an entrepreneur will ever make, right after deciding to go it alone. Sound like an easy undertaking? It's not, because of one common misconception: The most obvious candidate--your top salesperson--isn't necessarily the right one.

Why? First, great salespeople don't necessarily make great teachers. They're often better at selling than explaining the process. "They're like baseball players who can hit but couldn't tell anyone else how to do it," says Jeffrey Fox of Fox & Co., an Avon, Connecticut, sales and marketing consulting firm.

Second, salespeople often have big egos. They love to get orders--the tougher, the better--and receive all the credit. Working behind the scenes, mentoring and explaining the process gets in the way of selling. "It's not that they're jerks," says Fox. "They just prefer to go out and sell. That's what they love to do and it's what they do best."

Bill Kelley is an Arcadia, California, business writer and former editor of Sales and Marketing Management magazine.

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This article was originally published in the July 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Eyes On The Prize.

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