Ever Heard of John Patterson?

Peady’s Selling Engagement sponsored by IRD Prospector

John Henry Patterson was arguably the best salesperson of his time, perhaps the best of all time! He was president and owner of NCR (then National Cash Register Company) and many of his practices formed the basis of modern sales training and sales skills.
We owe him a lot as this article from Selling Power explains.

Amongst his many achievements delivered via the “NCR Primer” included:

  • Formalised sales training
  • The phrase “probable purchaser” rather than prospect
  • Advertising to create product demand
  • Buying is more powerful than selling
  • Sales contests and remuneration incentives for salespeople
  • Presentation uniformity with scripts
  • Strong sales management

What’s the point?

All of this happened nearly a century ago but many of the principles that Patterson developed for his salespeople at NCR and the business practices he used are still valid today.
One of his great quotes was: “Take it for granted that everyone can buy, rather than determining without an interview that some people will not buy” – what a positive statement.

Face to face

Patterson was a great proponent of F2F selling. He believed that people do business with those they trust and the most effective way to do build trust was in their office via a meeting. He pushed his team to ensure appointments were “fixed” and that the product demonstration was personalised.

Questions are king

In business most people are seeking answers to help them do a better job. Patterson insisted that asking strong questions led to answers that would start a train of thought leading to effective outcomes. Outcomes to uncover the buying motive.

Selling is not manipulation

Another of his key beliefs was that selling is understanding the other person and their motivations to buy based purely on needs. He pushed his men (no woman selling in those days) to adapt their style so every probable purchaser was treated with respect.

If you want to learn more about John Patterson and how he made selling into the profession it is today check out this book by Jeffrey Gitomer who is also a big Patterson fan –  “The Patterson Principles of Selling”

About the author 

Stephen Pead is a media industry veteran of 30 years with significant experience in direct sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in helping SME’s market their businesses more effectively and providing training for salespeople and sales managers.

He can be contacted at [email protected]



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