The birth of sales

Fed up with managing a coal company, John Henry Patterson and his brother Frank acquired a small company—the National Manufacturing Company located in their hometown of Dayton, Ohio. But he found that selling the company’s product was almost impossible. The product was technically intricate, very expensive, and apparently unnecessary. It was—and you may know this already—the cash register.

After 24 months of struggling, Patterson called his brother-in-law, Joseph Crane, to come be part of the company as a salesman. Crane rapidly became National Cash Register’s biggest producer. When Patterson asked how he was doing it, Crane admitted, rather embarrassed, that he just repeated the same thing, word for word, every time he presented the machine to a customer.

Straight away, Patterson had Crane’s presentation dictated and sent to every last sales representative. The company’s revenue soared. Furthermore, the technique influenced many other companies, particularly IBM. The leader of IBM, Thomas Watson, had previously been Patterson’s vice president of sales. He copied Patterson’s techniques at his new organization, setting the standard for results in selling high technology products.

How did he do it?

That’ll be the subject of our next post.