What is it about?

John H. Patterson is considered the Father of Modern Selling. He founded the National Cash Register Company in 1884 and it dominated the industry with market shares often exceeding 90 per cent. Patterson's sales practices are examined, including some that would now be considered unsavory.

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Why is it important?

Patterson created a sales force which captured over 80% of the market for over 40 years. Knowing about how a firm which dominated the market conducted sales activities in the past can help us better understand current sales practices and may even suggest some ways to improve in the future.


As a former salesperson for NCR in the 1970s, I very much enjoyed learning about its sales practices during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Much of what we now take for granted was "invented" at NCR and John Patterson was the driving force. While Patterson is widely viewed as the "Father of Modern Selling," this article also describes some "Sins of the Father."

Jon Hawes
Indiana State University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: John H. Patterson and the early sales practices of NCR, Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, March 2021, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/jhrm-09-2020-0042.
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