Selling Power Magazine Article

Selling Power 500
Selling Power Editors
Every year, Selling Power magazine’s research team ranks companies according to the estimated number of salespeople they employ. The 500 top companies in America – which employ the world’s largest sales forces – depend on more than 21 million salespeople to achieve their revenue goals, and this year marks the third consecutive year that the number of salespeople has topped the 20 million mark. This research shows that, without question, the men and women who make up each company’s sales force produce the revenue that will help fuel this country’s economic recovery.

The 2010 listing of the SP 500 includes the top 200 companies in the manufacturing industry, the top 200 companies in the service industry, the top 50 insurance companies, the 30 largest direct-selling companies, and the top 20 automotive-dealer organizations (megadealers).

Every year, new companies make the list, while others drop off. The total number of salespeople employed by all 500 companies listed adds up to 21,705,940, which represents an increase of about 2 percent, or a little more than 300,000 salespeople, as compared with last year. This overall change is due entirely to an increase in the direct-selling statistics, as the other categories show decreases in the number of salespeople. In the direct-selling category, the number of salespeople, which showed a sizable 6 percent increase in 2009, posted a much smaller 2 percent increase this year. There was a small decrease of less than 1 percent in the number of salespeople in the manufacturing category, a 1.8 percent decrease in the service category, and a negligible .39 percent decrease in the insurance category. The automotive industry posted the largest decrease in the number of salespeople: a decline of 4.85 percent from last year. Overall, without the direct-selling numbers, the number of salespeople posted its second straight decline, losing about 1 percent of the sales force.

The states with the largest numbers of SP 500 companies are New York (58), California (48), and Illinois (33). The states in which the SP 500 companies employ the largest number of salespeople are New York (5,739,061), California (5,050,119), and Michigan (3,033,025). These states are home to about 28 percent of the total companies and a whopping 64 percent of the total salespeople.

Productivity a Mixed Bag

Our research team continued to find that salespeople employed by manufacturing firms contribute a far higher amount of sales revenue compared with other industry segments. The top 200 manufacturing firms employ 498,458 salespeople and produce more than $3.2 trillion in sales. That’s an average of $6.5 million in sales per salesperson. This represents a large decrease (15 percent) in productivity compared to the previous year and the first decrease in six years, certainly reflecting the economic downturn. It should be noted that manufacturing companies lost 2,652 salespeople from last year, which is the second straight year of decline, and they also lost a sizable 235,517 employees, which continues to signal a struggling manufacturing sector for both salespeople and all other employees of those companies.

The top 200 companies in the service sector reported a decrease of 11,886 salespeople, for a total of 650,364 salespeople. While the number of salespeople decreased by only 1.8 percent, total revenues came in at $2.58 trillion, which is a slight increase over the prior year. This represents more than $3.9 million in sales per salesperson and a small 2.5 percent increase in productivity, reversing last year’s decline in productivity. The big service-sector change comes with a staggering decrease of 968,735 employees, with the service companies shedding more than 10 percent of the work force – another indicator of the poor economic conditions. 

The top 20 automotive megadealers reported decreases across the board this year. The top 20 firms own 1,276 dealerships (down by about 5 percent), employ 19,140 salespeople (a decrease of about 5 percent), and produce more than $62.7 billion in sales (down by a sizable 18 percent). This brings the average annual sales per salesperson to $3.3 million (down by more than 13 percent). The productivity registered certainly signals the continuing struggles within the automotive industry.

The top 50 insurance companies show a total sales force of 730,562, with an average sales volume per salesperson of $889,682. This represents the first year of increased productivity in four years, increasing this year by just a little more than 17 percent. The number of salespeople posted a negligible decrease of less than 1 percent over 2009.

The top 30 direct-selling companies reported 19.8 million (continued on page 2)
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