The Patterson Principles of Selling

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"Progress is the result of thought."
–from the Think! booklet, 1911

What prevents you from achievement?
How many distractions steal your time?

What are the five most influential sales books you have read?
What books are in your sales library?

Ever get a great idea?
Ever not follow through with it?

What principles of sales do you live by?
Do you even have any?

What does the word "probable" mean to you?
How does "probable" affect your attitude?

What do the words "Boot Camp" conjure up in your mind?
How sales-physically-fit are you, really?

Answers to these questions and more, inside. All you have to do to get them is purchase this book.
(and don’t forget to ask for a receipt)

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Editorial Reviews

Soundview Executive Book Summaries
Century-Old Proven Sales Strategies From a Pro
More than 100 years ago, master salesman John Patterson's principles of selling helped to sell millions of cash registers. Today, sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer has revived and updated Patterson's principles to help modern salespeople benefit from their wisdom. Gitomer tells salespeople, "People don't like to be sold, but they love to buy," and Patterson once wrote, "If the prospect understood the proposition, he would not have to be sold; he would come to buy." Cut from the same sales cloth, both salesmen possess a similar approach to selling and serving the customer. In The Patterson Principles of Selling, Gitomer adapts Patterson's principles to the 21st century and shows salespeople how to achieve the same level of success as "the Father of American salesmanship."

Patterson was more than the founder and president of The National Cash Register Co. (NCR). Gitomer explains that Patterson not only created the first sales boot camps and the first book on how to deal with objections, but his original strategies built a multimillion-dollar empire at the turn of the last century.

The 'Pull-Through' Sales Model
Gitomer argues that Patterson might have been the best salesman of all time - a man who blended the emotion that makes the sale with the logic that figures out the reasoning behind it, and a man who was among the most effective public demonstrators of his day. Gitomer credits Patterson with a number of great sales breakthroughs, including being the first person to realize a customer is more likely to complete a transaction through buying than selling, and the creation of the original "pull through" sales model. He also writes that the most overwhelming evidence of Patterson's genius was his concept of "creating the demand for a receipt, rather than just trying to sell the concept of a cash register."

Early on, John Patterson realized that training was the link to infinite sales. The first NCR sales script, "How I Sell a National Cash Register," which became known as The Primer, provided salespeople with the instructions on what to say during a sale and what to do while saying it. The Primer addressed everything from dressing, to exercise, to closing. Gitomer points out that it even detailed the first personality and situational selling methodology.

Instead of thinking in terms of profit, Gitomer writes that Patterson thought in terms of the good the cash register would bring to the "probable purchaser." In The Primer, Patterson also created dialogue examples of the most frequently asked questions and objections, as well as answers that had been successful for members of the selling force, many of which still apply today.

Sales Principles
In The Patterson Principles of Selling, Gitomer has dissected The Primer and extracted 32 Patterson sales principles, updated them with a few 21st century concepts, and even added one of his own that glues the others together. These principles include:

  1. Think! Patterson said, "Think and act - two words of progress." Gitomer writes, "Thinking. An action that very few people take the time to do." Write down ideas no matter how far-fetched they sound - just write for 10 minutes straight. Your stream-of-consciousness thinking will net you some amazing results.
  2. Self-Belief ... The Most Convincing Characteristic of a Salesperson. Patterson said, "If the salesman himself has faith in the honesty of his goods, he will have little trouble convincing his customers." Gitomer adds, "Self-belief is a most convincing characteristic to others, and THE most convincing characteristic to yourself." Before you can sell to anyone else, you must be sold on your company, your product and yourself.
  3. Positive Mental Attitude Is Determined by You, Not Others. Patterson said, "Success in selling is up to the attitude within each one of us individually." Your mental attitude is your motivation.

While delivering the principles that helped to make Patterson's sales force successful, Gitomer also provides the history of a master salesman and his company that serves as a foundation on which any salesperson can base a winning strategy for selling. With Gitomer's help, Patterson's principles present timeless lessons about selling that were once novel, are now classic, and still apply today.

Why We Like This Book
Jeffrey Gitomer provides a compelling look at a historical figure and his ideas about selling, as well as a training tool for salespeople of any era. By rooting his sales techniques and tips in the principles of a master salesman from the past, Gitomer demonstrates the timelessness of sales success and the shows how the ideas that once sold millions of dollars worth of cash registers a century ago can be easily revamped and put into action today. Copyright © 2004 Soundview Executive Book Summaries

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780471662624
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/16/2004
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 140
  • Product dimensions: 6.38 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.67 (d)

Meet the Author

JEFFREY GITOMER is the best sales trainer in the world. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings, and conducts Internet training programs on selling and customer service. His column, Sales Moves, appears in business publications worldwide and reaches more than 3.5 million readers each week. He can be reached at
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Table of Contents

A Walk in the Graveyard.

Why Is John Patterson the Father of American Salesmanship?

Where Did John Patterson Get His Concepts and Strategies?

Quotes Underlined by the Hand of John Patterson Taken from the Book He Can Who Thinks He Can by Orison Swett Marden.

Principles Are Driven by Truth.

The Evolution and Power of the Receipt.

The Evolution of The Primer: The First Sales Training Manual.

The Probable Purchaser.

Here Are the 32.5 Patterson Principles of Selling.

The Tradition of the 100 Point Club.

Traditions of Success and Principles for Life.

The Power of a Flipchart.

The Legend of the 1904 World’s Fair.

The Legend of 5 and .5.

The Untapped Power of the Probable Purchaser.

How to Live the Principles.

Ring the Register.

The Patterson Principles of Selling.

Author’s Biography.

Acknowledgments and Thanks.

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First Chapter

The Patterson Principles of Selling

By Jeffrey Gitomer

John Wiley & Sons

ISBN: 0-471-66262-3

Chapter One

A Walk in the Graveyard

"People don't like to be sold, but they love to buy" is a registered trademark phrase of mine. It's my sales mantra. I have used it for years.

My research director, Amanda Desrochers, screamed, "Jeffrey! Listen to this!" She read, "'If the prospect understood the proposition, he would not have to be sold; he would come to buy.' It's a Patterson quote." She chortled with delight. "You guys have the same thoughts!"

I was not surprised, but I was amazed (and gratified) at the similarity of our philosophy. And the span of time where so little has changed.

One hundred years separated those statements, but they are philosophically less than a centimeter apart.

There's an old saying that goes, "The more things change, the more they remain the same." Like many sayings, it's old because it's true.

This book is your opportunity to learn selling at the feet of John Patterson, the founder and President of The National Cash Register Company, and the original master salesman of America. And keep in mind that these successful principles were created before things like the telephone or the automobile. Paved roads were not yet the order of the day. The Wright Brothers (also from Dayton) had not yet flown. Steam and coal were the predominant power. War veterans were from the Civil War. Wanna travel? Stagecoach or train. The wild West was still wild.No traffic on the freeway. No cars. Edison was cranking on the lightbulb. It was the beginning of the manufacturing revolution in America. And John Patterson decided to take a leadership position.

I got the idea to revive Patterson's principles after doing a program for NCR at their annual sales conferences in Miami and Cannes.

As a sales historian, I had always known of Patterson, but I had no idea of his depth of strategies and achievements. He never wrote a commercial book on selling. "This guy is the Father of American salesmanship," I thought to myself. "And his principles are buried."

It was Patterson who created the original personality sales model. It was Patterson who created the first book on how to deal with objections. It was Patterson who held the first sales boot camps. In tents. In fields. Patterson didn't call potential customers prospects or suspects; he referred to them as "probable purchasers." And it was Patterson who coined the word THINK! that everyone credits to Watson and IBM. What people don't know is that Watson worked for Patterson, took it when he left, and used it to help begin the legend of IBM. Think about that.

I cal NCR, told them my idea to bring Patterson's principles into the 21st century, and they said "yes" on the phone. Cool. I'd do all the research and discover his original strategies that built a multimillion-dollar empire at the turn of the last century, and convert the strategies to computer and cell phone technology.

Off to Dayton, Ohio.

Amanda and I were going to a barbeque place for dinner. We had arrived in Dayton to do Patterson research for the book at the historical society. The restaurant had a 20-minute wait. I decided to take a walk around the neighborhood.

Three blocks later, we came to an old building that looked like a castle split in half with a gate in the middle. "It's a graveyard," I said. "Let's go check it out." I know this sounds goofy, but it was a beautiful place.

The weather cooperated. Cloudy on the verge of a storm. Dusk. Real cemetery weather. There was a car at the gate. Security at a graveyard? Everyone's already dead. I asked the guard if we could enter. "We're about to close, you'll have to exit on the other side of the Welcome Center."

"No problem," I assured him. "Anyone famous buried here?" "The Wright Brothers," he bragged. "Cool," I said. "Anyone else?" "Here's a map," he offered. "Is John Patterson buried here?" I asked. "Sure is. He's in Area nine at the Patterson knoll." He pointed.

I grabbed the map and searched. Found it. As we started walking, it began to drizzle. The only thing missing was a vampire. Giant trees made it light and dark at the same time. It was a huge undulating park with thousands of grave markers. Some as ornate as I've ever seen. Some 50 feet tall.

We found dates back to the early 1800s.

"Over here!" I yelled as I spotted what I thought was the Patterson gravesite. A huge marble arch marked the spot for the Patterson family. About a hundred names on it. On one wall was a brief bio of John, but I couldn't find his actual stone. Every Patterson family member had the same headstone. Smaller than a ten-pound sack of sugar. "Found it!" I screamed. Suddenly I went silent. I just stood on his grave imagining what he was like.

And then a flood of emotion came over me as I imagined the struggle, the risk, the creativity, the pioneering, the leadership, the setbacks, the victory, and every conceivable episode of business life when ultimate success occurs. The vision.

One hundred and eighteen years after his NCR adventure began, as I stood on the grave of John Patterson, an energy ran through my body that told me I was meant to be there. Ever get a feeling like that? Powerful and frightening at the same time.

I was inspired. I was energized. I was ready to take on this century-old task as though I was chosen for it.

Rain was falling as we left. "Pretty cool, huh?" I meekly offered to Amanda. "Unreal. What were the chances of this happening?" she said. "I wonder if it was a long shot or a predetermined one?"

Looking at the sky and the skyline, I said, "Serendipity, I've been told, is God's way of remaining anonymous."

I have chosen, and I have been chosen, to share this information. To take the principles, philosophies, and sales strategies of John Patterson, and memorialize them for the 21st century.

When you read them, you will find as I did that they are as (or more) valid today as they were then. Take them for yourself. Take them for your sales. Take them to the bank.

Why Is John Patterson the Father of American Salesmanship?

John Patterson was a visionary. He was a thinker; he was a risk-taker; he was a reader; he was an entrepreneur; he was a teacher; he was a student; and he was a salesman. Certainly the best salesman of his time. Arguably the best salesman of all time. Patterson's success was due to his ability to blend the emotion that makes the sale with the logic that figures out the reasoning behind it. He had the perfect blend of logic and emotion. Forming opinions or justifying decisions leans toward being logical, but Patterson understood that the process of buying was an emotional one.

He knew it. And he taught it.

Not just a businessman, Patterson was the creator of most of the practices that distinguish modern American business from all other businesses in the world. Not just a salesman, he was the founder of modern salesmanship. Not just a speaker, he was among the most effective of public demonstrators. Not just a financier, he was the chief exponent of getting money by spending money. Not just a manufacturer, he was the originator of the modern American factory. Not just a judge or a picker of men, he was the father of organized business and the developer of more business leaders than any other man of his time. Not just a man of commanding personality, he was a rare leader of men - equally sure of himself in threatened defeat or in expected victory.

He is salesmanship's father because he was the first person who realized a customer was more likely to complete a transaction through buying than selling. He created the original "pull through" model. He pioneered sales training. He taught his men to adapt and harmonize with the "probable purchaser" (which we now erroneously call the "prospect"). He inspired his people with ideas that worked. And he backed his salespeople with advertising and promotion so that the NCR brand of cash register was by far the machine of choice.

Where Did John Patterson Get His CONCEPTS AND STRATEGIES?

He read.

Patterson regarded a good book as a great mental possession. Only books worthy of being read again and again were to be found in his private library. All of his books are marked and underlined cover to cover. Whenever new knowledge appeared, Patterson underlined it, bookmarked it, studied it, and put it into practice.

Many underlined passages in his books show the essence of the message that captured his attention. Books helped to shape the man and the empire he built. Patterson believed that a good book was not the plaything for the idle hour, but a veritable means for generating power.

He read. And he generated power.

AUTHOR'S PERSONAL NOTE: The guy before Napoleon Hill. The person Napoleon Hill emulated was Orison Swett Marden. He was the original positive-attitude genius of the 20th century. Lately I have been buying every Marden book I can get my hands on. (For a complete list of Marden books, go to and enter the words MARDEN BOOKS into the GitBit box.)

About two years ago, I purchased a bunch of books from the original John Patterson library; most of them were on longevity, plus a few biographies. I was perusing the books last week to complete this work and decided to look at every book that I owned of Patterson's. I pulled out the title, He Can Who Thinks He Can by Orison Swett Marden. My blood ran cold. It is a first edition book published in 1908 and I realized we had yet one more thing in common. Smiled. And went about my business.

I carry the Marden book from Patterson's library with me now and read a page or two a day.

I especially read the parts that Patterson underlined. As usual, he found the gems. Here are a few:

Quotes Underlined by the Hand of John Patterson Taken from the Book

He Can Who Thinks He Can

by Orison Swett Marden Published in 1908

Every child should be taught to expect success.

People do not realize the immense value of utilizing spare minutes.

Multitudes of people, enslaved by bad physical habits, are unable to get their best selves into their work.

Some of the greatest men in history never discovered themselves until they lost everything but their pluck and grit.

Almost anybody can resolve to do a great thing; it is only the strong, determined character that puts the resolve into execution.

No substitute has ever yet been discovered for honesty.

Happiness is a condition of mind.

Resolve that you will be a man of ideas, always on the lookout for improvement.

Power gravitates to the man who knows how and why.

There is no word in the English language more misused and abused than luck.

Want the complete list? Go to, register if you are a first-time user, and enter the word MARDEN in the GitBit box.

Principles Are Driven by Truth

I have chosen to call Patterson's sales philosophies and strategies "principles" because they are truths that are up to you to implement into your sales life.

I would much rather do business with someone who is principle-driven than money-driven. Money-driven people have a few bucks, but focus on the money aspect of the sale rather than the customer aspect of the sale. And you can smell them like bad milk.

A principle-driven person has wealth. And that wealth is not just in money. It's in reputation, in the actions that they take, their personal pride, and not just their success, but their fulfillment. A person who lives by their principles is much more likely to be fulfilled when they are sitting there counting their money. Everyone counts their money. The question, is how do you feel when you know the total? Get it?

The Patterson Principles of Selling are more than 100 years old. They have a history of success. All of them are easily understood. None of them break any of your company's rules. Each of them can be mastered with some hard work. And together these principles encompass an approach to the sales process that will lead you to success this day, this month, this year, and this lifetime.

The Evolution and Power of the Receipt

Never forget the genius associated with the philosophy: Patterson did not sell the register, rather he created the need and the demand for a receipt. This may be the most powerful business strategy of the 19th and 20th centuries. Take a minute to ponder how you might use that philosophy to build your business. What demands are you creating? Who is calling you to buy?

Add to this incredible reality that the receipt is one of the most powerful pieces of paper in the world. Every receipt has its own power. It's your PROOF of purchase and ownership. And EVERY purchase is now accompanied by one. Thanks to John Patterson.

Receipts not only prove you bought it. They prove you own it, can return it, can exchange it, can get a warranty enforced, can resell it, can get reimbursed for it, can deduct it from your taxes, and much, much more. In many cases you need to show your receipt to exit a store thirty seconds after you just made the purchase.

You save receipts for years. They often outlive the very product you bought.

Think of how often you use your receipts ... they are documents, they are the reminders marking the passage of your time and your money. Receipts are the one constant in business for the last 100 years. Would you like your receipt in the bag?

The receipt is the only thing in business that has remained intact. A receipt is the "Prize" because without it, you have lost.

Banking and checking accounts give receipts for transactions. Your cancelled check or credit card statement is your receipt. A receipt is not just a proof of purchase - it's a recorded transaction. Proof of payment, with clerk, date, time, etc. It's a valuable document of who did what, when they did it, and how much was involved.

Want your money back? Better have your receipt. IRS knocking at your door? Better have your receipts.


Excerpted from The Patterson Principles of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2005

    Highly Recommended!

    Author Jeffrey Gitomer¿s book¿s jacket refers to him as, 'the modern leader of salesmanship.' Given that splashy buildup, his book has to be an attention-getter - and it is. The contents are displayed in modern, freewheeling big fonts and graphics. The illustrations feature intriguing black-and-white, scratchy images of NCR founder John Patterson demonstrating his eccentric, but fundamental, approach to sales. Something about Gitomer¿s book is inexplicably charming, perhaps due to his boyish love of industrial history and his unapologetic idol worship of Patterson, an American sales icon. Gitomer, who 'revised and revived' Patterson¿s rules, obeys the motto, 'Think!' In an era when business intently focuses on maximized sales, why not look to history for some winning answers? Patterson¿s 'Probable Purchaser' concept is a powerful idea, and the book¿s dicta are broad in scope if not deep. We believe Gitomer deserves fair credit for this thought-provoking work of industrial archaeology and encourages salespeople to read his book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 4, 2004

    This Book ROCKS!

    Gitomer has done it again, evryone in sales should own this book NOW.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2004

    On target to increase your sales capacity!

    On target and once again the living proof that it is not necessary to have the perfect product, rather the perfect sales pitch, to be successful in selling. No matter if we are talking about the 1880s or the twenty-first century, if you can create the right interest, right sales tactics and create the demand, you will be successful. When you finish this book, you will come to realize that the only person holding you back is none other than yourself. Gitomer serves up a winner that stands heads and shoulders above the other ¿How to sale your product¿ books. Buy it, read it, and make your mark.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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