John Henry Patterson – Training and Territories

story of selling Jun 16, 2020

Changing How We Do Things

Right now, in the time of Corona, you may be feeling anxious about the future of selling and by extension concerned about your role in sales, your businesses sales performance or your customer relationships.

This is completely understandable, and it is the reason why I prepared this series for you, an entertaining trip into the recesses of history where you will learn more about the heroes, groundbreakers and the villains of our profession.

Join me on a quest to find the origins of our age-old legends and discover the truth behind the myths that have plagued our profession for years, all the while learning about the story of selling and the salesman in each one of us. In so doing you will discover that sales is one of the few professions that has continued to evolve throughout the ages, and we have no reason to fear that we will do anything less than thrive well into the future.

John Henry Patterson – Training and Territories

Having watched his sales team literally turn keen customers in to non-starters, John realised he HAD to do something – and fast!

He consulted with his brother-in-law and together they documented all the product features and benefits, the client challenges, and the problems that they had not thought about before. From this, he published the very first sales playbook which was made available to every salesperson.

A short time later, he visited an NCR stand at an industry exhibition and began to ask his own sales team manning the stand some questions from the playbook.

He was appalled to find that they had memorised barely any of the information available and were not using it at all! He quickly booked a hotel room, hauled them all in, and started training them on the content. The results were so astounding, and he was so thrilled with the result that he started regular sales training for all salespeople. Which we still do today, around the globe.

With the success of the sales meeting came other forward steps, such as the introduction of sales territories and a number of other challenges and John was finding it difficult to get buy-in across the organisation on the sales process, so he began to host an annual conference.

At one of these conferences, guests were surprised by a shoeshine boy named Sam, who came whizzing in on his roller skates. He flew past the audience and came to a standstill in front of the stage, where he removed his skates and joined Patterson on the stage. He promptly began to shine Patterson’s shoes…

John Henry Patterson spoke to Sam…

“So, Sam, you are now the official NCR shoeshine boy. Do you enjoy this arrangement?”

“Yes, Mr Patterson. I do.” replied the shoeshine boy.

“Why is that, Sam?”

“Well, Mr Patterson, before I would spend much of my day finding clients who needed a shoeshine. And while they were many, sometimes I would get there at the wrong time and they would say “Another day, Sam.” I was averaging 25 shoeshine appointments a day.”

“And now, Sam? How many shoes are you able to shine? You are, after all, limited to only the NCR building now.”

“Oh, Mr Patterson, I am shining 50 pairs a day because the customers know where to find me and they’re getting used to having their shoes shined.”

“Thank you, Sam.” he said, as he dismissed him. With that, Sam put his roller skates back on and whizzed out of the room.

John then turned to the audience: “Do you see, folks, that this is why we have allocated a protected territory for each salesperson? This allows you to get to know your area and for your client to get to know you.”

You see, John had introduced the idea of protected territories, due to the fact that salespeople were calling on each other’s customers and closing deals they had not built, claiming commissions they had not earned as their own and ultimately eroding the ‘relationship’ that each salesperson was building with his or her clients.

Of course, there were certain rules in place, such as having to reach your quota to keep your protected territory, and incentives and rewards where introduced to encourage and reward the top performers.

Salespeople that were experiencing challenges around their territories were then brought in to one on one meetings with their sales head, or John himself – and today we call these sales meetings or sales coaching meetings.

From humble beginnings John Henry Patterson had learned about hard work, but it was his role as a visionary, and a rule breaker and a deal maker that saw him building a sales empire with a plan – one that many of us still refer back to today.

A Key Takeaway

Change is inevitable, let’s be sure that our response is not predictable. – Shelley Walters

Making it practical

Name a change that you have had to face, play the scenario forward and give it 3 different endings

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