Don't be a Herb Tarlek

For those mature enough to remember television shows in the 1970's, Herb Tarlek, the sales professional on the hit comedy show WKRP. In the show, the Herb Tarlek character was what many would consider to be the typical sales rep

This impression of those in sales was not a very flattering one and while the character provided many laughs, it did nothing to advance the public opinion of those in sales.

As sales professionals of today strive to eliminate the negative public opinion of the sales industry, we can look to our friend Herb to learn what not to do. For sometimes, the best teachers are those who give us examples of how not to conduct our professional lives.

Dress for Success

Snazzy dresser, Herb Tarlek.

 Styles certainly change from year to year. What was considered stylish in the 1970's was considered outdated and, at times, foolish looking in the 1980's and beyond.

Sales professionals should dress not only for their own success but also to show respect for those they are conducting business with. Your individual style need not fall into perfect alignment with some perceived standard of expectations, but what you wear should positively reflect your professionalism, your career, and your company. More

Work Ethic

 While it's impossible to judge Herb's work ethic by watching the show, we can make the assumption that poor old Herb was often times more focused on making a connection with one of his fellow employees than he was on expanding his professional network and providing solutions for his clients.

Sales is not an easy job and not a good career choice for anyone not willing to put in the hours needed for long-term success.  More

Always be Honest

 The Herb Tarlek character was, at times, creative with the truth. While the show never showed him conducting a sales call, it was made clear that Herb was not the most honest person in the sales industry.

While you may be able to close some sales and put some money in your pocket by telling half-truths or outright lies to some customers, any position less than a fully honest one will certainly not lead to long-term success in the wonderful world of sales. More

How's Your Ego?

A great way to turn off both co-workers and clients is to let your ego drive your behavior. While you may be an expert in your field and may have a long list of successful sales under your belt, leave your ego at the door.

Herb was either very confident or dishonest with himself when it came to his strengths and areas of potential improvement. As good as you may be, understand that you still have areas that you can improve on. 

Sales skills are not things to be flaunted but to be professionally used, always expanded and seen as your most valuable asset in your sales career. More

Respect for Co-Workers

 Whether you are one sales professional on a team of many or the only sales rep in your company, you should make a point of treating your teammates with respect and with courtesy.

While Herb's interactions with his co-workers certainly were humorous, they were not an example to follow. More

Changing Public Opinion

Everyone who is serious about being a sales professional has or will face challenges with how they are viewed by some of their customers. For whatever reason, many people do not trust sales people. Overcoming this negative opinion is both a challenge and a responsibility that everyone in sales has.