History of Sales

1873: Cold Calling

The inception of cold calling traces its origins to 1873, thanks to the visionary efforts of John Patterson, the esteemed founder of the NCR Corporation. 

With remarkable foresight, Patterson devised a structured and scripted face-to-face client prospecting technique, now widely known as prospecting calls or cold calling.

1875: The Telephone

In June of 1875, a groundbreaking invention emerged—the telephone—courtesy of Alexander Graham Bell. 

This revolutionary device would go on to transform communication as we knew it, connecting people across distances like never before and shaping the course of history.

1886: The emergence of the Yellow page

In a transformative leap forward, the Yellow Pages made its debut, revolutionizing the way people accessed business information by introducing a categorized directory.

1923: Ford adopts the Science of Selling by including it in their sales training

In a landmark move during 1923, Ford adopted the Science of Selling, revolutionizing their approach to the market and setting the foundation for modern sales practices.

1936: Relationship Selling

Relationship Selling made it’s appearance with Dale Carnegie’s book “How To Win Friends and Influence People”.

This transformative concept forever changed sales techniques, emphasizing the importance of building strong connections with customers and ushering in a new era of customer-centric sales strategies.

1964: Xerox debuts telephone fax machine

To this day, fax is not becoming obsolete and is only evolving into a more capable and powerful communication tool.

1971: Ray Tomlinson sends the 1st email

It was Tomlinson who decided to use the now-ubiquitous “@” symbol to separate the recipient’s name from their location. “user@host” remains the standard for email addresses that we all continue to use today.

1874: Kansas City Stockyards

Kansas City Stockyards, which covered over 200 acres, became a massive meat market before the flood of 1951.
At its peak, the stockyards had a daily quota of 170,000 animals, representing 91% of the city’s industrial output, employed 20,000 people and received stock from 35 states while shipping to 42 states.

1978: First email campaign

The world’s oldest email campaign was sent at 12:33 EDT on 3 May 1978 by Gary Thuerk, then working for Digital Equipment Corp.

The first email campaign that was ever sent, which led to $12 Million in sales, and earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.

1983: The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X phone is approved for use in the US

The 8000x was the first commercially available cell phone and cost $3,995, nearly $12,000 in today’s dollars. The phone achieved icon status in the movie, Wall Street.

1983: Tony Inocentes

The first political robo calls were launched in January 1983 when business owner Tony Inocentes used his telemarketing machine from his collection agency business to announce his candidacy for the 57th Assembly District in California.

1985: Robert Miller and Stephen Heiman created Strategic Selling

Also known as the Miller Heiman technique, this was built to maximize the power of enterprise sales by leading reps step-by-step through a repeatable process of identifying, convincing, and closing deals with multiple stakeholders.

1987: Pat Sullivan and Mike Muhney released the first-ever CRM, named ACT!

It was essentially a digital Rolodex that enabled its users to organize and store customer lifecycle information effectively.

1988: SPIN Selling

SPIN Selling, Developed by Niel Rackman, so-referred to as consultative selling, is introduced.

Rackman introduced the methodology, outlining a sales process framework for developing and timing structured questions that sales reps should ask in person or on sales calls to close more deals.

1989: The Birth of the Web

Tim Berners-Lee, a British scientist, invented the World Wide Web (WWW) while working at CERN. The Web was originally conceived and developed to meet the demand for automated information-sharing between scientists in universities and institutes around the world.

1994: The Sting album “Ten Summoners’ Tails” is purchased online with a credit card

Daniel Kohn’s purchase of the CD marked the first, digitally secure, online credit card transaction.

1999: The launch of Salesforce

Founded by former Oracle executive, Marc Benioff, Salesforce is launched from a one-bedroom apartment and skyrockets into one of the largest companies in the world.

The Salesforce journey began with a clear vision to be “A World-Class Internet Company for Sales Force Automation” and is now a multi-billion dollar company.

Oxiclean: 2000

After cutting his sales teeth at state fairs and tradeshows, Billy Mays makes his OxiClean TV pitch debut and goes on to transcend into sales lore forever

2003: Reid Hoffman established LinkedIn May 5, 2003 in his living room

Today, LinkedIn leads a diversified business with revenues from membership subscriptions, advertising sales and recruitment solutions.

2004: Google announces their new webmail service: Gmail

Given its dramatic storage capacity of 1GB (500x what Microsoft’s Hotmail offered) and the ironically-timed announcement on April Fools’ Day, many assumed it was a prank. It wasn’t.

2007: ZoomInfo is founded by Henry Schuck

Formerly known as DiscoverOrg, ZoomInfo emerges to enable sales teams as a contact data point solution

2011: The Challenger Sales is developed by the Corporate Executive Board

The Challenger Sale technique is all about challenging customers to think differently about their problems and pre-dispose customers to think about the solution.

2011: Email everyone all at once

Outreach breaks ground on a marketing automation system to automate the outbound email point of the prospecting process.

2018: Founding Sailes

Born on the Fourth of July, Sailes was founded by Nick Smith and Clive Cadogan.

With $80 and a dream, Nick was able to quickly secure his first client through utilizing Saile’s own technology, Sailebot.

2018: Sales Engagement

Salesloft launches Sales Engagement to co-pilot, coach, and reduce the time-to-decision for sales reps.

2019: Patent-pending for Sailebot™

Patent is filed for Sailebot™, the first technology to automate all of prospecting.

2020: Accucode replies to Sailebot™, becoming the first delivered AO

January 14, 2020 goes down in Sailes history. Sailebot 33107-01 [Nick] generates the first Actionable Opportunity™ while Nick is on a flight from Kansas City to O’Hare.


Sailebots reach a major milestone by officially replacing 1,000,000 manual prospecting tasks with Digital Labor, saving companies $1.4M in hard costs and generating far more in actionable revenue opportunities.

2022: Sailebot™ passes 3M prospecting tasks

3M tasks automated. Finding contacts, cleaning data, validating results, engaging prospects, reading  emails, responding intelligently, receiving signals, all completely automated. 3 Million times. 

2023: ChatGPT’s reaches 100 million monthly active users

While Netflix had to wait around 3.5 years to reach 1 million users, ChatGPT became the fastest-growing application in history… until Threads took that crown in July 2023.

2023: Sailes breaks the record of total AOs delivered in one day

July 5th 2023.

This date is marked as the historic number of actionable opportunities delivered in one day. 71 to be exact.

2023: Sailes launches Starboard™

The first-of-its-kind platform where salespeople can onboard, build, and train their own AI.