I thought SOMEBODY would know. I googled several variations of this question. I couldn’t find anything that wasn’t about sales quotas.
I checked blogs, news sites, professional associations, etc. Lots of people are asking the question. Some are even trying to answer it. None of them agree.
Their estimates differ by tens of millions. It turns out that NOBODY knows. So, I set out to answer the question for myself.
I wanted to know how many business software sellers I’d have to train to capture 100% of the market. Everybody needs goals.
The number I came up with is 7.5 MILLION.
Here’s how I got there:
1. Dan Pink brought it to my attention that, per the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 15M people in the “sales” profession in the United States.
2. CompTIA reports that the US tech sector comprises 11.6% of private sector payroll. (We don’t report any jobs in the public sector as “sales.”) That’s 1.7M technology sellers in the US.
3. Per Wikipedia (don’t pretend you don’t use it), the US Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is 17% of Gross World Product (GWP). That’s 10M technology sellers around the world.
4. What percentage of global technology sales are BUSINESS and SOFTWARE sellers? I dove into the tech sub-sectors to figure it out.
a. I used the Thompson Reuters Tech Sector Industry data to determine the weight of each tech sub-sector.
b. The top three sub-sectors make up 81.5% of tech sector market capitalization. They are: computer hardware (42.5%), IT services & consulting (20.1%), and computer software (18.8%). That was large enough to represent the entire market for my purposes.
c. The weighted average percentage of revenue from BUSINESS and SOFTWARE operations at the proxy companies I used to represent the top three sub-sectors (Dell, Alphabet, and Microsoft) was 61.5%.
That’s 6.15M global business software sellers.
That's probably the pure, customer-facing sales group… which is not quite everybody.
5. Lastly, I included the immediate, everyday support personnel critical to successful business software sales: marketing, training, sales operations, and services. That increases the total between 20% - 25%.
That’s how I arrived at 7.5 MILLION global business software sellers. I’ll be busy training them for quite some time... which is why Software Sales School rolled-out online training.
Does my estimate include cashiers at the Apple store? I don’t think so, but you never know with all those assumptions. Still, I’ve got a number I can use with confidence in my daily work.
I’ve seen estimates that are double my calculation, so I invite you to arrive at your own number! I won’t hold it against you if you prove me wrong. Go for it.