Selling Power Magazine Article

Selling Power 500 Largest Sales Forces (2017)
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 millions of salespeople to achieve their revenue goals, and the number of salespeople this year is just under 25 million.

This shows that, without question, the men and women who make up each company's sales force produce the revenue that will continue to fuel this country's economy.

The 2017 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).

See the 2017 Selling Power 500 List:
Automotive Dealers
Automotive Makers
Direct Sales
Every year, new companies make the list while others drop off. The total number of salespeople employed by all 500 companies listed is 24,929,421, which represents a sizable decrease of about 4 percent – or more than 1 million fewer salespeople – from last year. This overall change is due almost entirely to a decrease in the number of salespeople working for direct-selling companies.

The direct-selling category, which posted a significant 4 percent increase in 2016, posted an equally significant 4 percent decrease this year – a possible indication that people are returning to the more traditional full-time sales force in greater numbers or joining some other areas of the workforce. The number of salespeople in the manufacturing industry increased by more than 1 percent, while the number of salespeople in both the service and insurance industries declined in 2017 – by 1 percent and 6 percent, respectively. The decline in the service industry continues the trend in declining sales-force numbers posted for the most recent two years. The automotive industry posted a small increase in the number of salespeople: up just over 1 percent. Overall, without the direct-selling numbers, the number of salespeople decreased for the first time in two years, by 38,856 salespeople.

The states with the most SP 500 companies are California (55), New York (51), and Illinois (37). The states in which the SP 500 companies employ the largest number of salespeople are New York (6,693,175), California (5,033,159), and Texas (3,639,072). These states account for about 28 percent of the total companies and a whopping 61 percent of the total salespeople.

Our research team continued to find that salespeople employed by manufacturing firms contribute a far higher amount of sales revenue than other industry segments. The top 200 manufacturing firms employ 528,030 salespeople and produce more than $4.1 trillion in sales. That's an average of more than $7.8 million in sales per salesperson. This represents a significant (6 percent) increase in productivity compared to the previous year, which means productivity – which had been stagnant or declining for four consecutive years – is now beginning to rebound. The number of manufacturing salespeople increased, gaining almost 7,000 salespeople since last year. The total number of manufacturing industry employees also increased this year, increasing by more than 3.5 percent over last year.

The top 200 companies in the service sector reported a small decrease of almost 8,000 salespeople, bringing the total to 592,284 salespeople. The number of salespeople decreased by just over 1 percent, and the total revenue came in at more than $3.4 trillion – an almost 10 percent increase over last year. This represents more than $5.7 million in sales per salesperson and a healthy 11 percent increase in productivity – now showing three straight years of productivity gains. The number of service-sector employees increased by a significant 15 percent this year, making it an impressive five consecutive years of increases in the number of service-sector employees.

The top 20 automotive megadealers reported mixed numbers this year. The top 20 firms own 1,742 dealerships (up by about 1 percent), employ an estimated 26,130 salespeople (an increase of about 1 percent), and produce more than $117 billion in sales (down by more than 3 percent). This brings the average annual sales per salesperson to almost $4.5 million (down by more than 4 percent). The productivity registered shows a sluggish automotive industry still in the process of recovery.

The top 50 insurance companies employ sales forces totaling 600,334 across the industry, with an average sales volume per salesperson of $1,550,352. This represents a large increase in (continued on page 2)
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