Meet Rich Bohn!
From successful sales and marketing executive to information publisher might seem an unlikely career move; but it seems to be working so far! There are millions of sales people who have yet to discover exactly how CRM can improve their lives. This is a tremendous waste of effort. I want to show sales professionals and business owners everywhere precisely how they can take better care of their customers and Sell More Now through effective use of CRM!
Where Did This Guy Come From?
I am often asked how I got started at all of this and what I was doing before I began writing about CRM software. So, first of all, I am a salesman, with all of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly that that includes! I have held the full range of sales positions, rising through the ranks in a classical sales career path, including such positions as sales engineer, regional sales manager, national sales manager and marketing vice president. All of my experience was in direct sales of big-ticket, long buy-cycle products with companies such as Nicolet, Varian and Siegen – a Silicon Valley medical instrument start-up. Today, my primary interests continue to include marketing and direct selling in business-to-business markets.
Coincidentally, I started my sales career at the dawn of today’s microcomputer revolution. Recognizing the the potential impact this computer technology might make in my sales figures; I went out and bought an Apple II. Thus began my 40-year quest exploring the benefits of sales automation and CRM! I still remember the time I went into a computer store and described the information that I wanted to track for my prospects and customers. After careful consideration, the salesman told me I needed dBASE II, it would solve all of my problems. So, I bought the program ($495, as I recall!) and rushed off to revolutionize my sales efforts. Back in the office, it didn’t take me long to realize dBASE would not even run on my Apple without something called a CP/M card! The friendly computer store would not even refund my dBASE purchase, they figured I had just copied the program. Though I then went out and purchased that pesky CP/M card, I never did get any useful information from dBASE. I did not realize it at the time, but this was my first clue that there might be a need for someone to help salespeople find the right software to really help them take better care of their customers!
Later in my career, I discovered that sales and marketing projects seldom make it to the top of IT department’s priority lists. They are always busy with projects for accounting or manufacturing. It was as a newly appointed Vice President of Marketing that I ran into this bureaucratic mess. I had great plans for my team and many of them called for the kind of detailed analysis I had recently mastered in graduate business school. After waiting in vain for several projects, I decided to look for an alternative. So, I continued to do my own thing in the marketing department. By then, the IBM PC had been introduced. And, better yet, companies were beginning to develop programs just for people in sales and marketing. I tried a lot of them. And even got some great results with a few of them. Somewhere in there I went through the “our application is unique – we need a custom program” phase, learning first hand the challenges that exercise can provide. Being an old Apple guy, when the Mac came out, I went out and bought one of those to learn what neat capabilities the Mac might provide. In a relatively short period of time, I gained a lot of experience with this exciting new technology.
Tiring of corporate bureaucracy, launching my own company seemed the next logical step. I had been thinking of going into business on my own for quite some time. After some thorough marketing research and a lot of soul searching, I decided to see if I could earn a living from my keen interest in the use of computer technology in sales. The Denali Group was incorporated on August 3, 1984. Our first product, the newsletter Computer Aided Selling, was launched in January 1985. That newsletter went on to become the longest running independent voice providing software reviews, analysis and commentary on all facets of sales automation and customer relationship management. When I thought back to the various positions I held, the most personally (and financially!) rewarding was Regional Sales Manager. Working one-on-one with sales pros who were really trying to excel was not only rewarding, it was a lot of fun! If you think about it, that’s what I’m doing now, helping sales pros throughout the world use computer technology to excel in sales!
Realizing that some sales people prefer their advice in bite-size portions, we began offering a series of special reports focused on different sales automation problems. We no longer publish the newsletter (rechristened in January-1992 as Sales Automation Success) on paper. Instead, we publish the same stories, and lots more, for free on this web site. Our In-Depth Reviews of leading sales automation programs are now available individually, as Kindle ebooks. Our first full-length book, The Sales Automation Software Compendium, was published in 1995.
Over the years, I have written software reviews for many other publications. I was the Review Editor for Sales Process Engineering & Automation Review (SPEAR) where I was honored to receive the Sales Automation Association’s award for Excellence in Journalism. I was also a Contributing Writer, focusing on reviews, for Sales & Field Force Automation, now known as CRM Magazine. My no-nonsense reviews have helped literally thousands of sales pros make more informed CRM decisions!
I am not shy about beating my head against new software products. I earned a BS degree in electrical engineering at the University of Illinois, providing the technical background required to deal with today’s sophisticated technologies. A graduate degree in management (Northwestern University-Kellogg Graduate School of Management) balances this technical perspective with a sensitivity to real-world business problems. My old marketing professor, Philip Kotler has said it only takes a day to learn marketing, but a lifetime to master it! So, I have become a lifetime student of sales and marketing. I continue my dual quest, studying the latest techniques in sales and marketing, as well as, the ever expanding list of new sales and marketing technologies. Through my writings, I try to share some of this knowledge with you. There are over 30 million people employed in sales in the U.S. I continue to cling to enough 60′s idealism to think that some of my writing and analysis might just help some of you achieve greater success in sales!
When people read any of my stuff or talk to me on Zoom, they immediately know that I’m a salesman first – closet computer nerd, second. I know sales can be tough and frustrating enough without adding another layer of complexity. My simple goal has always been to just help you get off to a great start with CRM. If I succeed at this, I know you will take better care of your customers and Sell More Now!
What about Jean?
Oh yes, you should also meet Jean, my lovely wife. We met in Silicon Valley where we both worked for the same high-tech startup (she was employee #2, so she outranked me!) Somewhere along the way we each tabled our rule about dating people we worked with and let the relationship blossom naturally. We had already become good friends. So, when we moved on to the next level, it was a solid loving relationship. When the company was sold, I persuaded Jean to move to Seattle with me. (She would get the better of this deal though, as we later moved to her child-hood home of Burley, Idaho) We were married that summer in Ketchum, Idaho on August 22, 1987. One of these days, I will post the world-famous wedding video. Until then, here is our wedding photo!
Jean likes fine wine, baseball, entertaining, shopping and eating out. We never had any children of our own, but that does not mean we have not had children in our life! In Issaquah, we had our “three boys,” then there was Austen, Mikayla and Sofia. All of these kids are now out of college and getting married and having kids of their own! So, then we turned our attention to our ten kids in Burley – cousins that we have always treated like grand-children. These ten kids keep Jean very busy. It seems like she is always shopping for Christmas or birthdays or some other occasion! And now four of them have even graduated from high school!
Where the hell is Burley?
As Jean and I have gotten older we both felt it would be nicer to have a little more family around. We are both tired of the Seattle traffic and weather too! Luckily, thanks to the internet, I can operate this business from just about anywhere. So, after nearly 40 years in Issaquah, we decided to move to Burley, Idaho – Jean’s childhood home.