From Farmer to Sales Pioneer

June 19th, 2019

While recently reflecting on my time working at NCR Corporation



Today’s post is written by Ivy Ray, Senior Procurement Specialist at SafeSourcing Inc.

While recently reflecting on my time working at NCR Corporation, I wondered what happened to the historic machines that were previously housed in the Dayton, Ohio NCR Headquarters Product Center after the company headquarters was relocated to Georgia. People used to come from all over the world to tour the center. I was relieved to know that the products remain in Dayton and have been placed on display by the Dayton Historical Society at Carillon Park. The historical cash registers produced by NCR (formerly The National Cash Register Company) are not the only lasting impression of the company. Among his many accomplishments and contributions to the business world and to the community, NCR Corporation’s founder, John H. Patterson was a sales pioneer.

Known as the father of American salesmanship, John Patterson revolutionized the sales strategy as the owner of the National Cash Register Company from 1884 until his death in 1922. When Patterson first set out to market his early cash register to retailers, his sales force had the difficult job of selling a relatively expensive product that had no demand. The sales person had to explain to business owners how the machine would prevent internal theft and give an accurate account of the day’s receipts, in order to ensure accountability and preserve profits. One of Patterson’s many known quotes is “If the prospect understood the proposition, he would not have to be sold; he would come to buy.”

John Patterson was determined to overcome this obstacle and set out to develop the company’s sales force by creating an intricate system of management to monitor and train his salesmen. He developed the first sales training school and was the first to utilize massive direct mail solicitations. He held conventions and themed sales contests and created a method of sales management which included the calculation of quotas, commission rates, and territorial sales regions. Patterson initiated a sales script known as the NCR Primer which divided a sale into four steps: approach, proposition, demonstration, and close.

Patterson’s sales techniques had a major impact on the development of modern selling. So many prominent businessmen were trained and fired by Patterson that some business historians regarded experience at NCR as the rough equivalent of an MBA degree. After being fired by Patterson, Thomas Watson Sr. became the President of CTR which was later renamed IBM.

I was the Training Coordinator at the Sugar Camp location in Dayton, Ohio, the grounds of the first sales training school, which is located only a few blocks away from the current SafeSourcing office in Kettering, Ohio. John Patterson literally changed the landscape of Dayton, but he also changed the landscape of business as we know it today. He coined the phrase for his service division, “We cannot afford to have a single dissatisfied customer”.

For more information on how SafeSourcing can assist you in exploring your procurement solutions for your business or on our “Risk Free” trial program, please contact a SafeSourcing Customer Service Representative. We have an entire customer services team waiting to assist you today.

We look forward to your comments.


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