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

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

Instead of focusing on your best salesperson, you should look for "a student ofselling." For example, keep an eye out for a good, solid salesperson who comesto meetings prepared, is interested in sales strategies and asks questions.

Other key qualities to look for in a sales manager include:

A deep, sincere interest in the company. The best individuals lookbeyond their immediate responsibilities [to the needs of the business.

The ability to work well with people on and off the sales force. He orshe should be among the first to volunteer to help new salespeople and shouldshow an interest in mentoring and leading. Keep in mind, top salespeople areoften uncomfortable with tasks other than selling; a sales manager must be ableto be at ease with all departments.

Good organizational skills. As a manager, he or she will have moremeetings, appointments and paperwork than ever.

The ability to work without a lot of praise. Instead of being stroked,he or she will do the stroking. The job requires him or her to make sure othersperform to the best of their ability--and to be certain others get the credit.

Accountability. Conversely, a sales manager should be able to take thehit when something goes wrong.

The ability to perform well under pressure. No other department headwill be under the gun so constantly to produce results.