We finished Part 1 with Mr. Patterson having published the first known Sale Manual and with him ready to embark on a series of salesmanship first.
Perhaps Mr. Patterson’s single greatest contribution in modernizing salesmanship was his insistence that salesmen are made, rather than born. Looking back, this concept is hardly a revelation, however, back in the 1880’s, it was unheard of. Patterson realized making a salesman required a great deal more than outfitting in him in nice clothes, stuffing his briefcase with sales literature and guiding him into a prospects place of business. If merchants were to be educated about the cash register, it was necessary first to educate the salesmen. Crane’s Sales Manual was a step in the right direction, but Patterson’s mind was already formulating other ideas to fire up his lackadaisical (Patterson’s words) sales force.
One of these early ideas was the so-called guaranteed territory which gave each salesman his own domain. This concept eliminated duplication of effort, placed responsibility and made for better customer relationships.
Another Patterson first was to establish a quota system. Under this system, the Company to the best of its ability tried to measure the sales potential of each territory, based on the number of potential customers in the territory and the amount of business produced in that territory by previous salesmen. In short, the quota system was an attempt to convert guesswork into science. It provided each salesman with a definite target to shoot for and at the same time allowed management back in Dayton to measure each salesman’s progress.
Patterson was a firm believer in public recognition. He felt that men were inspired nearly as much by the credit they received for a job well done as they were for the monetary reward they received for their work. Therefore, logic, following the quota system and the guaranteed territory led him to a program for recognizing and honoring those salesmen who met their quotas. As a result, the CPC or Hundred Point Club was established. The first C in CPC is the Roman numerical for 100. Salesmen made the club by achieving 100% of quota. In following years, countless other companies established similar sales clubs.
Brain-storming was never far from Patterson’s conscious thought. One of his new found theories was that “teaching through the eye” was the most effective way to educate. He claimed he had found medical evidence for his conviction that visual things were easier to grasp than abstract ideas. Somewhere he had read that the optic never was 22 time stronger than the auditory nerve. This led him to the belief that if you tell a person something it tends to go in one ear and out the other, however, when you show them something the idea goes directly to the brain. Overnight he became a valued customer of the blackboard and chalk industry. When an important idea was raised, he would jump up, grab the chalk and before long, with is gift for simplifying complex thoughts, he would have the black board full of understandable phases, diagrams and sketches. The opening of the first NCR office in France provided the perfect example of Patterson’s “chalk talk” ability. The first task was to get an audience for his presentation. He ordered a salesman to run out to the sidewalk and ring a bell. Curious Frenchmen came inside to see what was happening. When the crowd was large enough the door was locked and Patterson faced the group. It was only then that he realized that he couldn’t speak a work of French. Unfazed, he picked the chalk, turned to the blackboard and gave what was probably both the first and last cash register demonstration ever made without words. Apparently his presentation was understood by the captive audience as the history of NCR in France had officially begun without a work of French being spoken.
Patterson’s gift for getting the most mileage out of an idea was again revealed as soon as he returned to Dayton. He purchased countless large pads of paper and had the NCR Woodworking Department construct pedestals for the pads. Thus was born the NCR “chart pedestal” which became almost as essential a part of an NCR sales office as was the furniture, the cash registers and, yes, even the sales and service men. Soon to follow, the chart pedestal was to be found in every office and manufacturing department at the Dayton facility. As usual Patterson practiced what he preached. He even had a chart pedestal installed in his bedroom. He wanted to be sure of preserving any idea that came to him the middle of the night.
In Part 3 we’ll discuss Mr. Patterson’s stockholder scoffed at silly idea of “educating salesmen”. Nobody paid salesmen to learn. The only way to learn to sell was to go out and sell.