Chart showing number of 2018 ProSales 100 survey participants' OSR counts as a percentage of total staff
ProSales 100 research

Rarely do you find greater variety in how ProSales 100 companies operate than in their use of outside sales reps (OSRs). Some companies have one or two; another has 1,900. What's the "right" number for your business? What we found in the just-issued 2018 ProSales 100 report could help you decide.

Eighteen of the ProSales 100 companies declined to tell how many OSRs they had, so for the chart above and the numbers below, we supplemented the results from the 82 PS100 firms that did report with numbers from another 18 dealers that fell just short of making the list.

This group of 100 averaged $7.6 million in total sales revenue for every OSRs. At lumberyards without manufacturing operations, the average was $8.9 million in sales per OSR. At lumberyards with manufacturing, it was $6.9 million. And at specialty dealers--typically firms that mainly sold roofing or drywall--the average was nearly $3 million per OSR.

These 100 companies collectively had 71,891 workers of which 7,494 were identified as outside sales reps. That works out to 10.4 OSRs for every 100 employees. But here's where dealers vary.

As the chart above indicates, at about one-fifth of those dealers, there were no more than five OSRs for every 100 employees. Nearly two-fifths employed five to 10 OSRs per 100 workers, while another quarter had 10 to 15 OSRs on staff per 100. And so forth up the scale.

We didn't provide a definition of what constitutes an OSR, and sales departments differ markedly in their use of internal sales reps and assistants, so it can be tough to directly compare one company with another. That's why we're not revealing names here.

What's your view on setting the right OSR-to-staff ratio? Tell us in the comments section below.