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To see Selling Power's most recently published Selling Power 500 listing, click here.

Cover image of the Selling Power 2022 500 Largest Sales Forces

For the past 24 years, Selling Power magazine’s research team has ranked companies according to the estimated number of salespeople they employ. Selling Power’s 2022 list of 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 totals more than 24 million.

Much of this data was collected as pandemic lockdowns were being lifted, business travel was beginning to return, and employees who had transitioned to working from home were beginning to trickle back into the office.

See the Top 10 Largest Sales Forces in each industry:

THIS YEAR’S OVERVIEW

The 2022 Selling Power 500 Largest Sales Forces in America 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 on this year’s list is 24,215,161, which represents a minuscule increase of less than 1% – or an increase of only 16,305 salespeople – from our 2021 list. This is unsurprising given the continuing struggles of an economy struggling to recover from the worst stretch of the pandemic.

The direct selling category, which has previously experienced large swings in the number of salespeople, remained essentially unchanged from 2021 to 2022.

In other categories:

  • The number of salespeople in the manufacturing industry decreased by almost 2% – the second consecutive year with a significant decline.
  • The number of salespeople in the service industry rebounded, with an increase of over 6%.
  • The insurance industry posted a significant decrease in the number of salespeople – declining by almost 3%.
  • The automotive industry reported the largest percentage increase in the number of salespeople – more than 13% – indicative of a continued strong demand for vehicle purchases.

Overall, without the direct-selling numbers, the number of salespeople increased by only 11,305.

The states with the most Selling Power 500 companies are California (58), New York (50), and Illinois (39). The states in which the Selling Power 500 companies employ the largest number of salespeople are California (7,088,576), New York (6,591,368), and Florida (2,996,533). These states account for about 29% of the total companies and a whopping 68% of the total salespeople. It is interesting to note that California experienced a loss of almost 8% in the number of companies with the largest sales forces – the first time we have recorded such a decline since we began the Selling Power 500 research.

PRODUCTIVITY ON THE REBOUND

Reversing the numbers of the previous two years, our research team found that salespeople employed by manufacturing industry firms contributed a higher amount of sales revenue than those in service. The top 200 manufacturing firms employ 504,964 salespeople and produce just over $5.4 trillion in sales. That’s an average of $10.78 million in sales per salesperson. This represents a significant (15%) increase in productivity compared to the previous year and is an indicator of early inflationary pressures along with a static overall manufacturing sales force. While the number of manufacturing salespeople declined slightly from last year, the number of manufacturing employees increased by almost 4% when compared with last year.

The top 200 companies in the service sector reported a modest increase of just over 35,000 salespeople, bringing the total up to 594,655 salespeople. While the increases have remained relatively small, the total revenue for the sector topped $6 trillion – a surprising increase of almost 15% since last year. This represents more than $10.2 million in sales per salesperson and a sizable 7.73% increase in productivity – now showing eight straight years of productivity gains. The number of service-sector employees posted a smaller increase of nearly 6% this year, making it four consecutive years with steady employee growth.

The top 20 automotive megadealers reported uniformly positive results this year. The top 20 firms own 2,055 dealerships, employ an estimated 30,825 salespeople, and produced over $161 billion in sales (up by an incredible 27%). This brings the average annual sales per salesperson to over $5.2 million (up by almost 12%).

The top 50 insurance companies employ sales forces totaling 626,917 across the industry, with an average sales volume per salesperson of $2,105,212. This represents a decrease in productivity of almost 7%. The number of salespeople also declined slightly from last year (a 2.84% decrease), and their productivity followed suit, declining by almost 7%. Rounding out a uniformly negative year for the insurance industry, the number of employees decreased by almost 5% from last year.

While the top 30 direct-selling companies continued to report more than 22 million salespeople, this year saw no significant change. In fact, the increase in the number of salespeople reported amounted to a fraction of a percent and marked the first time in years without a significant swing in the sales force numbers, either up or down.

Here are some of the key takeaways for this year:

  • The service industry, including the travel sector, showed signs of recovery from the worst of the pandemic.
  • Companies like Amazon, unfazed by the various economic challenges posed over the past couple of years, continued to flourish.
  • The manufacturing industry showed signs of improvement in key areas.
  • The insurance sector experienced a down year by every measure.
  • A number of companies moved states, accounting for a first-time significant decline in the number of Selling Power 500 companies located in California.
  • As the health crisis from the pandemic recedes, the economic ramifications, including inflation, continue to evolve, and their impacts on the Selling Power 500 companies may take years to adequately assess.

SELLING POWER 500 SALESPEOPLE DRIVE THE ECONOMY

Each salesperson in the service or manufacturing industry supports, on average, 21.08 other jobs within their respective companies. That figure marks a slight increase from last year’s number of 20.55 and indicates the importance of the sales force during economic adversity. These companies employ a total sales force of more than one million, who produce over $11.5 trillion in sales and ensure the employment of over 24 million people. This underscores the fact that the sales forces of America will be responsible for helping our economy regain its footing as we continue navigating these times of economic uncertainty.

HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THE SELLING POWER 500

TOP EXECUTIVES – Use the Selling Power 500 to benchmark your company’s productivity per salesperson. Find out how you measure up to your competition and the average in your industry. Check which companies have decreased their sales forces and which are gearing up for expansion. Buy the full Selling Power 500 list now.

SALESPEOPLE – Use the Selling Power 500 as your best-prospect list. There is no other source that gives you access to those companies that purchase products for a large number of salespeople. This is your ideal list if you sell sales training, sales-incentive services, customer relationship management solutions, automotive fleets, sales meetings, or trade show services. Begin your account planning by researching company Websites.

JOB SEEKERS – Use the Selling Power 500 to plan your sales career. These 500 companies employ the largest sales forces in America. Large companies invest heavily in recruiting, training, and rewarding sales staff. To find job openings, log onto the companies’ Websites.

EDUCATORS – Use the Selling Power 500 as a tool to build next year’s curriculum. Every year, Selling Power 500 companies seek to recruit more than 500,000 college graduates. There are more than a dozen colleges that offer sales curricula, and all of their graduates can look forward to solid careers in sales. Prepare your future students for a lucrative career in sales. (Note: Media research shows that the average Selling Power magazine reader has a college degree, works in sales management, and has a household income of over $174,000 per year.)

Special thanks go to our corporate research team for collecting the data. To have your company listed in the Selling Power 500 next year, please email research@sellingpower.com.