Thinking of promoting your best salesperson to sales manager? Think twice, advises sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer in his column, "Sales Moves."

"This is a great idea if you want to gain a bad manager and lose your best salesperson," he writes. Still, it is possible for such a promotion to work out, if both the person being promoted and the existing manager take appropriate steps beforehand.

Gitomer advises prospective sales managers to take management courses, starting months before they transition fully into their new positions. Also, sales managers should remain active salespeople, in order to stay in touch with what subordinates are doing in the field. Employee buy-in also is key, as rank-and-file salespeople will need to adjust; their peer has now become their boss.

Book Review
Be A Winner:
GE CEO Offers No-Nonsense Advice For Business Success

By Stacie H. Rosenzweig, Editor

Winning by Jack Welch, with Suzy Welch (HarperBusiness, 2005, $27.95, available on CD)

When former CEO of General Electric Jack Welch writes a book, people listen. His 2001 memoir, Jack: Straight From The Gut, was an immediate and long-lasting bestseller, and his newest release, Winning, appears to be poised for similar success.

Unlike Straight From The Gut, Winning is not a memoir, although Welch does rely on personal and professional anecdotes to convey to the reader his time-tested ideas for business success. He begins by making a case for candor — not rudeness, but bluntness. A manager or owner, he says, shouldn’t beat around the bush or couch bad news; he or she should be as direct and candid as possible, even if some feelings are hurt along the way.

And, much of the book follows that advice — Welch is often blunt, his language a bit unpolished at times. This may be a bit off-putting to some readers used to more upbeat discussions of success, although others might see his directness as a refreshing change from the tone of other management books.

Where this book shines is in Welch’s discussion of doing difficult things, such as getting rid of non-performers; he recommends dividing employees up into three groups — the top 20 percent, the middle 70 percent and the bottom 10 percent of performers — and terminating the bottom tier.

There are three ways managers mess up firing, Welch says: moving too fast, taking too long, and, yes, not using enough candor. He offers examples of each dynamic, and ways to handle terminations, including firing longtime employees who no longer produce as needed, with grace.

Another strength of this book is that while most of it is aimed at owners, executives and other top-level decision makers, a large chunk is directed at just about anyone who wants to be successful in their career. Welch offers advice ranging from finding the right job to getting promoted and even balancing work and life.

The depth and breadth of knowledge Welch offers in Winning can be both a strength and a weakness of the book — there’s a lot of good information in its 372 pages, but at times, it seems to cover too much ground. His chapter on mergers and acquisitions, for example, seems out of place, as though he felt he had to say something about that topic. The information would have been better presented either woven into other chapters or omitted and used in another work altogether.

Still, readers who find value in the stories of others’ successes will find more to like than not in this book, and likely, Winning will find a place alongside Straight From The Gut on their business bookshelves.