Content provided by Robyn Murray, Freelance Writer
Bruce Bischoff has always been on the move. His first few years of life were glimpses of places – an Air Force base in Sacramento, an apartment building in Maryland. His father was a military man who worked at the Pentagon while the family was in Maryland. Bischoff doesn’t remember much of life among the secretive base – but he does recall one night. “The [apartment] building caught fire,” he says. “We sat in the parking lot and watched the building burn.”
“I remember that, and I remember we used to catch turtles in the creek behind the building. But that’s about it,” he adds with a laugh.
Other locations weren’t as fleeting, but Bischoff was still on the go. From Maryland, he and his family moved back to California to settle in San Jose; a few years later, they relocated to a small town outside of Salt Lake City where Bischoff graduated high school. Though it took him a while to adjust to a small town – he thought there was nothing to do – he soon discovered a world of possibilities outdoors. “I could walk up to the mountains, go hunting and fishing with my friends,” he says. “I’ve found that it really doesn’t matter where you live as long as you have friends and people you like to be with.”
Today, after living all over the country and exploring the world, Bischoff has found a home in Omaha, Neb. But the itch to move still keeps him going – and, luckily for him, keeps him good at his job.
Bischoff, who is now head of sales at CLS, picked up again after high school and traveled to Japan. He spent two months at a training center learning Japanese and then headed off for a two-year religious mission, immersing himself in the language and culture, which he admires. “The Japanese people are the kindest people you could come across,” he says. He became fluent in Japanese and decided to study marketing with a minor in the language. After graduating from Utah State University, he was soon hired as a salesman by Pfizer Pharmaceuticals where he got to use his language skills to launch new products in Japan and translate meetings between higher-ups.
For Bischoff, sales was a perfect fit: a battlefield on the move.
“When you’re a sales guy on the road – it’s you every day in your car driving across Rocky Mountain roads, or it’s you every day driving in the snow in the Northeast trying to get to an appointment,” he says. “You’re on the front lines.”
In 2013, Bischoff made another big move. Invited by CLS President Todd Clarke, who he knew socially, to head a rapidly growing sales team, Bischoff jumped into a jargon-filled field he knew little about. “It’s kind of like learning a language,” he says. He recalls writing words down in his first meetings and running Google searches on his phone to figure out what people were talking about. “At first, it was just like Japan,” he says, “a lot of smiling.”
But, a fast learner who adapts easily, Bischoff quickly made his way and instituted metrics and measures to support a sales team that had grown rapidly. “I kind of pride myself on accountability,” he says. “We know where we are; we know where we need to go. And whether it be a weekly, monthly or yearly basis, we know our results.”
“The thing that motivates me is not being complacent,” Bischoff says, “and not being happy with the status quo and the way things are.”
Despite being comfortable with change, Bischoff says he might not have made the switch if it wasn’t for Clarke. “Because of what I knew about the organization, what I knew about the integrity of the family, the integrity of Todd,” he says, “probably gave me the ability to make that leap.”
Today, Bischoff has lived in Omaha for 12 years and is settled enough to call his adopted city home. He works out of an office at CLS and describes himself a “home office advocate” for his sales team. “I’m here to help these guys succeed,” he says, “I’m a resource to them.”
But he still spends about a third of his time traveling with his team. “If I’m sitting in an office in Omaha, Nebraska, I truly don’t know what’s going on face-to-face with the sales people and the advisors,” he says. “There’s so many things I find while I’m out there that CLS can improve on, what we can offer our sales people [and clients] that are better resources for them.”
An ear to the ground – and always on the move.
“Even though I’m managing sales people now and being an advocate for sales people, at heart I’m just like them,” he says. “I’m the guy who’s driving through the Rocky Mountains. As a sales guy, that will never leave you.”