For the past 25 years, Selling Power magazine’s research team has ranked companies according to the estimated number of salespeople they employ. The 500 top companies in America on Selling Power’s 2023 list employ the world’s largest sales forces and depend on millions of salespeople to achieve their revenue goals. This year, the number of salespeople in these companies totals more than 25 million.
Much of this data was the first to be collected post-pandemic – while transportation and the travel industries were rebounding and while other companies began shedding employees that had been hired during the lockdowns.
To purchase a more detailed searchable spreadsheet of all SP 500 companies for 2023, including key statistical industry comparisons (2023 vs 2022); and a directory tab that includes the company mailing addresses, phone numbers, websites; plus, CEO and a top Marketing/Sales Executive name for each company, click on the Buy Now cover image above.
The 2023 Selling Power 500 Largest Sales Forces in America list 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 reported by all 500 companies on this year’s list is 25,738,863, which represents a robust increase of more than 6%, due largely to a shift in the direct selling industry. This is unsurprising given the nation’s appetite for spending coming out of the pandemic, coupled with a massive government infusion of money to both corporate America and individuals as part of the recovery efforts.
The aforementioned direct selling category, which had been stagnant during the pandemic in terms of sales force growth, reported a large overall increase in the number of salespeople from 2022 to 2023.
In other categories:
Overall, without the direct-selling numbers, the number of salespeople decreased by more than 75,000. One could question if the proliferation of generative AI is beginning to make an impact on sales organization staffing.
The states with the most Selling Power 500 companies are California (56), New York (49), and Texas (38). The states in which the Selling Power 500 companies employ the largest number of salespeople are California (6,763,764), New York (6,600,674), and Texas (3,685,369). These states account for about 28% of the total companies and a whopping 66% of the total salespeople. It is interesting to note that California and New York continue to decline in companies with major sales forces while states like Texas are gaining and have made it into the top three for the first time in both the number of companies on the Selling Power 500 list and for the total number of estimated salespeople employed.
Beginning with this year, we are also tracking the gender gap in the leadership of these major companies. While there was the slightest improvement from 2022, when only 8% of these companies were led by women, it is still disappointing that, in 2023, a paltry 10% of the Selling Power 500 companies are led by women. In the companies we are reporting on that lead the tech sector, all are helmed by men with the notable exception of Oracle’s CEO, Safra A. Catz.
Continuing a trend in 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 491,200 salespeople and produce just over $6.1 trillion in sales. That’s an average of $12.5 million in sales per salesperson. This represents a significant (16%) increase in productivity compared to the previous year and is an indicator of continuing inflationary pressures along with a declining overall manufacturing sales force. While the number of manufacturing salespeople dropped slightly from last year, the number of manufacturing employees increased by almost 5% when compared with last year.
The top 200 companies in the service sector reported a minuscule increase of just over 6,000 salespeople, bringing the total up to 600,894 salespeople. While the increases have remained relatively small, the total revenue for the sector topped $6.5 trillion – an increase of almost 9% since last year. This represents more than $10.9 million in sales per salesperson and a sizable 7.44% increase in productivity – now showing nine straight years of productivity gains. The number of service-sector employees posted an increase of nearly 5% this year, making it five consecutive years of reported employee growth.
The top 20 automotive megadealers reported uniformly positive results this year. The top 20 firms own 2,122 dealerships, employ an estimated 31,830 salespeople, and produce over $184 billion in sales (up by almost 15%). This brings the average annual sales per salesperson to over $5.8 million (up by 11%).
The top 50 insurance companies employ sales forces totaling 557,509 across the industry, with an average sales volume per salesperson of $2,932,374. This represents a 39% increase in productivity. The number of salespeople declined from last year (an 11.07% decrease), which factored into the productivity numbers. In a bright spot for the insurance industry, the number of employees increased by more than 34% over last year.
The top 30 direct-selling companies reported a sizable gain in total salespeople, coming in at just over 24 million for 2023.
Here are some of the key takeaways for this year:
Each salesperson in the service or manufacturing industry supports, on average, 22.26 other jobs within their respective companies. That figure marks a slight increase from last year’s number of 21.08 and indicates the importance of the sales force, even when it has declined in numbers. These companies employ a total sales force of more than one million, who produce over $12.7 trillion in sales and ensure the employment of over 24 million people. This underscores the argument that the sales forces of America hold the keys to success for their companies and their fellow employees.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.