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 totals more than 23 million.

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

The 2019 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 2019 Selling Power 500 List:

Every year, new companies make the list while others drop off. The total number of salespeople employed by all 500 companies listed is 23,092,511, which represents a sizable decrease of over 8 percent – or a decrease of about 2 million salespeople – from last year. This overall change is due almost entirely to the substantial decline in the reported number of salespeople working in the direct selling industry.

The direct selling category, which remained flat in 2018, posted a significant decrease of about 9 percent this year – a possible indication that more people are moving toward sales jobs in traditional industries or simply moving out of the direct selling industry altogether. The number of salespeople in the manufacturing industry decreased by over 4 percent, while the number of salespeople in the service industry decreased by a more significant 12.5 percent. That decrease in the service industry reverses last year’s 10 percent increase. Only the insurance industry managed to post a small increase in the number of salespeople over 2018 – by 1 percent. The automotive industry remained relatively unchanged, posting a less than 1 percent decline in the number of salespeople. Overall, without the direct-selling numbers, the number of salespeople decreased by 97,800 in 2019 – more than reversing last year’s increase of 46,890 salespeople.

The states with the most SP 500 companies are California (61), New York (52), and Illinois (42). The states in which the SP 500 companies employ the largest number of salespeople are New York (6,643,949), California (5,110,645), and Texas (3,646,573). These states account for about 31 percent of the total companies and a whopping 66 percent of the total salespeople.

PRODUCTIVITY ON THE RISE

Our research team continued to find that salespeople employed by manufacturing firms contribute a higher amount of sales revenue than other industry segments, but the gap is closing between the manufacturing and service industries. The top 200 manufacturing firms employ 481,869 salespeople and produce over $4.9 trillion in sales. That’s an average of over $10 million in sales per salesperson. This represents a significant (14 percent) increase in productivity compared to the previous year and is the third consecutive year of significant increases. The number of manufacturing salespeople decreased, declining by more than 21,000 salespeople since last year. The total number of manufacturing industry employees increased this year by more than 6 percent over last year.

The top 200 companies in the service sector reported a significant decrease of more than 82,000 salespeople, bringing the total down to 574,707 salespeople. While the number of salespeople declined by over 12 percent, the total revenue came in at over $5 trillion – an 11 percent increase since last year. This represents over $8.8 million in sales per salesperson and a very robust 27 percent increase in productivity – now showing five straight years of productivity gains. The number of service-sector employees remained relatively unchanged, posting an anemic increase of less than 1 percent this year, ending an impressive streak of six consecutive years with significant increases.

The top 20 automotive megadealers reported generally positive numbers this year. The top 20 firms own 1,793 dealerships, employ an estimated 26,895 salespeople, and produce over $128 billion in sales (up by almost 4 percent). This brings the average annual sales per salesperson to over $4.7 million (up by just over 4 percent). The productivity registered indicates an automotive industry still in a recovery period.

The top 50 insurance companies employ sales forces totaling 612,397 across the industry, with an average sales volume per salesperson of $1,655,485. This represents a small increase in productivity of about 2 percent. In fact, the number of salespeople increased slightly from last year (a 1 percent increase), while their productivity continued to increase ahead of the sales-force pace of growth. The total number of employees also posted an increase of 7.5 percent over 2018.

The top 30 direct-selling companies reported more than 21 million salespeople, but this year marked another significant swing in numbers, posting a sizable 8.5 percent decrease in the number of salespeople, which continued a trend in volatile changes over the past 18 years.

It is interesting to note that, while overall employment numbers showed positive increases across the board, the sales-force sizes across all industries posted a second consecutive year of generally declining numbers. Productivity per salesperson increased significantly this year across all industries – especially in the service industry, which saw the largest productivity increase at almost 27 percent. Productivity per employee increased this year across all industries except the insurance industry, which posted a 4 percent decrease from 2018. Overall, 2019 showed a more positive employment environment, increases in productivity, but a declining sales force in terms of the number of salespeople.

SELLING POWER 500 SALESPEOPLE DRIVE THE ECONOMY

Each salesperson in the service or manufacturing industry supports, on average, 20.36 other jobs within the company; that figure marks a significant increase over last year’s number of 17.91 and continues a trend of increases over the past few years. These companies employ a total sales force of more than 1 million salespeople, who produce almost $10 trillion in sales and ensure the employment of more than 22 million people. This underscores the fact that the sales forces of America are responsible for helping sustain and ensure our economy’s future growth.

HOW TO GET THE MOST OF OUT THE SELLING POWER 500

TOP EXECUTIVES – Use the SP 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 listing now.

SALESPEOPLE – Use the SP 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 SP 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 SP 500 as a tool to build next year’s curriculum. Every year, SP 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 SP 500 next year, please write to SP 500 Research, P.O. Box 5467, Fredericksburg, VA 22403.