Slate Magazine published an article by James Ledbetter about the ever-increasing number of disappearing salespeople. The headline read, “Death of a Salesman. Of Lots of Them, Actually. The troubling disappearance of salesmen and how it helps explain America's economic woes.”

Mr. Ledbetter claims that thousands of salespeople have lost their jobs to the Internet. And he is correct. He left out one word when describing these salespeople: “retail.”

The B2C sales marketplace is trending undeniably to the Internet. Black Friday now has a competitor: Cyber Monday. And Cyber Monday is winning the race.

Books, music, electronics, appliances, shoes, clothing, medical supplies, prescriptions, furniture and gifts of every type and description, from companies all over the world, are being bought online by the millions. Without salespeople.

People like you are buying more and more online. And that means fewer retail sales jobs. But … does that really impact the economy? No. I wonder if the editor of Slate Magazine that wrote the article has ever had a sales job. He’s definitely clever at creating titles and building a case for empty scenarios.

The bottom line is that overall sales are increasing, therefore the economy is the same or better with or without the retail salesperson that’s being displaced.

Some salespeople are being legislated out of business for the lack of ability to build relationships with customers.

And all this is exacerbated by online companies making news for their customer service prowess. Zappos and Amazon being the classic examples. Many companies now have both retail brick and mortar stores and online businesses.

It’s not necessarily bad news. It’s just news – and news that salespeople better pay attention to. The economy is not being bludgeoned by a lack of salespeople.

Now is the time for salespeople to study the marketplace, make an assessment of where they feel their best long-term opportunities lie, combine those opportunities with selecting something that they’re passionate about or would love to do, and dig in.

This is the season to be grateful and jolly – not the season to be grumbling, panicked or remorseful. It’s the season to get in gear and make plans for next year, and the next decade.

Sales jobs will grow wherever the economy dictates that they grow. Health care is going to grow because the society is aging. Start there. Technology will expand and create tons of sales jobs. Take a look there. And the Internet will create all kinds of jobs, especially sales jobs, based on its undeniable growth.

Mr. Ledbetter concentrates his article on the retail sector, failing to address the larger B2B sector. It’s true that some jobs will go away, but 10 times as many will be created in their wake.

The original "Death of a Salesman" by Arthur Miller was published in 1949. The story is about a negative guy named Willy Loman who refused to change his ways as society grew and changed their ways. He eventually died, a broke and broken man. And so will you if you fail to recognize what’s happening.

Online business is both a revolution and an evolution. It’s not a job killer – it’s a job creator.

And yes, there are the traditionalists, the people who love to go retail shopping in the store, the people who would rather buy a hardbound book than an e-book and the people who like to touch things before they buy them. But they (and I) are getting older.

People under the age of 20 only know the Internet as their prime source of communication, purchase and download. Get used to it, get over it, understand the sales opportunity that it creates and take advantage of it. If you don’t, society will take advantage of you.


Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of "The Sales Bible" and "The Little Red Book of Selling." President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer loyalty at www.trainone.com. He can be reached at 704-333-1112 or e-mail to salesman@gitomer.com. His columns are posted on his Web site, www.gitomer.com