The Disruption Report #26: Young People Don’t Want to Sell, Shipping By Rail Is a Problem, and the Economy Is Slowing Down

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Young People No Longer Want to Be in Sales

The demand for salespeople is up, but the supply is down. Why? Because young people no longer aspire to become salesmen and saleswomen.

I get it. Being a salesperson can be challenging (think Death of a Salesman and Glengarry Glen Ross). Yet, it can also be financially lucrative and rewarding.

Consider this Wall Street Journal headline: “The Pay Is High and Jobs Are Plentiful, but Few Want to Go Into Sales?” The article’s author, Patrick Thomas, presents the problem this way:

The struggle to find sales hires predates the pandemic and may have more to do with the types of roles people are comfortable taking these days than it does with a shortage of workers. Images of glad-handing car salesmen or “Mad Men”-style account representatives are hard to shake, recruiters say, adding that early-career hires aren’t always attracted to positions where success is measured in new business brought in.

Mr. Thomas states that because sales is not taught in business school students do not consider it a profession. It is a vocation. The lack of academic credentials therefore puts off newly graduating students.

I have long argued that universities should treat sales as an college major. Being a true sales professional means far more than back-slapping and convincing chatter. It calls for emotional intelligence, analytical skills, and a rare ability to communicate and listen.

Eight years ago, in 2014, I wrote the article “The Toy Industry’s Graying Sales Force; Is It a Problem? My article turned out to be prophetic. A graying sales force is a problem.

Planes, Trucks and now Trains

Intermodal freight transport is defined as the use of more than one form of transit to move cargo. Containers shipping is the epitome of intermodal transport as the containers float on ships, ride on rails, and travel on trucks.

We talk a great deal about trucks and ships, but we forget that trains carry the bulk of containers from west coast ports to hubs in Chicago and Memphis. Shipping by rail is less expensive than shipping by trucks, so picking up a container in the at a rail yard in the midwest is favorable to trucking it 3,000 plus miles.

That’s why my eye was caught by this Marketplace article by Caroline Champlin, First, the Port of L.A. was clogged. Now, it’s Chicago’s railroad yards.” She points out that those west coast backups at the west coast ports are cascading into Chicago and Memphis. It has gotten so bad that railroads have paused or stopped transiting containers to the Windy City.

The backups in Chicago are expected to last at least through the end of the year.

The economy is Slowing Down Due to Supply-Chain Tie-Ups and Labor Shortages

The toy industry’s publicly traded companies are reporting a solid second quarter. That’s good news as it demonstrates a continuing strong demand for toys and play.

The rest of the economy is not running at as brisk a pace. Despite government stimuli and heavy demand for goods, America’s GDP grew at a slower pace than expected. GDP that was expected to be up 8.5% and came in 2 points lower at 6.5%.

Some economists are concerned about the slow growth and see trouble ahead. Jonathan Garber, in his article “US GDP falls short as supply-chain disruptions, labor shortages stunt comeback,” reports:

“Supply chains are far from getting back to normal, and the story of the COVID-19 pandemic, including variants, is far from being finalized,” said Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate.

A slowing GDP may point to a second-half of the year that could feature empty store shelves, continued inflation, and as a result, sagging sales.

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