At the time NCR was founded in 1884 a reference to war meant the Civil War. The airplane was yet to be invented. Speedy transportation meant going by rail. And to be a salesman was the lowest of the low. Rough-looking. Cigar-puffing. Whiskey- reeking. Undisciplined hawkers and peddlers of wares of dubious manufacture.
This undisciplined approach to salesmanship continued well into the twentieth century. In contrast, the 70 charter members of the world’s first CPC were sales professionals of the highest caliber — impeccably groomed, black shoes polished, white shirt starched, collars buttoned — ready to face two weeks of systematic sales training, camaraderie and entertainment by the officers of the National Cash Register Company (NCR). This landmark event, celebrating the top sales achievers in 1906, was held February 4-16, 1907, on the 8th floor or NCR’s building No.10 in Dayton, Onto.
2006 marks the 100th anniversary of CPC, the oldest and most elite sales club in the world. The first written record of CPC can be found in the June 8, 1906 edition of “Quota Number N.C.R.” Mailed to the entire US selling force, it did a great deal toward popularizing the 100-point movement which had started in the Chicago district office with the encouragement of District Manager E. W. Russell and Office Manager C. T. Walmsley who were both ardent supporters. To become a member, a sales agent was required to secure an average of 100 points a month for 12 consecutive months, from January 1 to December 21, or 1,200 net points per year.
CPC was a direct outgrowth of the sales quota plan devised by founder John H. Patterson for measuring and recognizing selling ability. Billed by Patterson as “the most exclusive organization of any selling force in the world,” the announcement of the 100 Point Club described the club’s features and organizational model and promoted the ultimate prize, “a two weeks” convention exclusively at Dayton, Ohio. “The purpose of the convention was to gather together for an exchange of ideas and general discussion in order to ‘increase their efficiency as salesmen.” All traveling expenses and hotel bills were paid by the company.
“Loyalty Produces Leaders” was the motto adopted by members of The Club — loyalty to the company and to the company’s sales practices. The Club’s insignia was the monogram of the letters “C.P.C.” As was noted in the proceedings, “It shall be inscribed upon the flag adopted by The Club, and each member shall be given a fiag.” G. L. Baker of San Francisco made NCR history as the first sales agent to qualify for CPC Membership. According to the rules of the time, he became president of CPC for the year.
In addition to rousing speeches and songs, attendees were entertained and showered with congratulations for their hard work. One of the first orders of business was a tour of the factory floor where special exhibits had been erected in different departments to help tell the story of NCR’s manufacturing and inspection processes.
The members of the first CPC convention deemed it “a tremendous success. So great was the praise of the charter members of the 100 Point Club — of the idea, of the convention, of the help and encouragement they got — that many of the agents voluntarily asked that their quotas be increased to 100 points a month so that they too could be eligible for membership.”
As the company grew and prospered and NCR evolved into a global entity, enthusiasm for CPC expanded from its roots in the United States into a phenomenon of domestic, regional, international and eventually global events in which the “best of the best” in NCR sales came together as one.
Rewards and recognition were a big part of the CPC convention experience, but more important was the veritable explosion of ideas that resulted as salespeople shared their stories and their most successful techniques. Annual CPC conventions continued to he held with regularity except when world events intervened, notably the Great Depression and World War II.
The rules for CPC qualification have changed from time to time since the first CPC convention. Today attaining 100 percent of assigned objectives qualifies sales associates for CPC Membership, but it does not qualify them for attendance at the convention except for first-timers or ”Baby 100 Pointers” as they were called in the early years of CPC. Today, in order to participate in the convention, additional quota attainment is ‘incrementally set... depending on the category of the sales associate.”
Some things have not changed, however, including many of the CPC traditions that have evolved over the decades. The one tradition that has endured the longest is the flying of flags which formed a key part of the celebrations of the very first CPC convention. Today, in addition to a flag ceremony, other CPC traditions include the CPC pin, a tie/scarf ceremony started at a CPC convention in the Far East, recognition of first-time CPC qualifiers, recognition of consistent achievers, recognition of 25-year CPC Members and Chairman Award Winners, and the induction of new Life Honorary CPC Members.
Source: NCR CPC Centennial Booklet