Even during healthcare’s ongoing transformation, there are hospital laboratory outreach programs prospering because they support top-producing sales representatives
Across the United States, many local clinical laboratories and hospital lab outreach programs are not only holding their own, but regularly adding new clients and taking market share away from their national lab company competitors. Such sales success by these labs goes against the popular wisdom that times are tough for smaller medical laboratories.
One common trait that these thriving lab organizations have is a productive sales and marketing program that is anchored by one or more top-producing lab sales representatives. This year, The Dark Report, Dark Daily’s sister publication, decided it was time that these lab sales success stories be made public.
Medical Laboratories Can Still Use Sales Reps to Increase Revenue, Profits
Reporting on the lab industry’s top sales producers serves two worthy goals. First, it brings recognition to the accomplishments of these lab sales professionals. Second, it helps medical laboratory administrators and pathologists at other labs and hospital outreach programs learn more about what it takes to use lab sales reps to win new clients, increase specimen volume, and do it in a way that solidifies the financial performance of their laboratories.
This May, at the 21st annual Executive War College on Laboratory and Pathology Management, The Dark Report announced the winners of its first National Lab Sales Excellence Awards. There were five winners, three from the Hospital Laboratory Outreach category, one from the Specialty Testing Laboratory category, and one from the In Vitro Diagnostics Equipment Company or Lab Software Solutions Sales category.
First Annual National Lab Sales Excellence Awards Announced Last May
In the weeks to come, Dark Daily will profile each of the five lab sales professionals who were honored with the National Lab Sales Excellence Award. Our writer, Pamela Scherer McLeod, is interviewing each of the lab sales winners, as well as one of their senior managers or executives. This is to provide readers of Dark Daily with a full picture of the contributions that each lab sales professional has made to his or her parent organization.
National Lab Sales Excellence Award Winner
Category: Hospital Laboratory Outreach
Sean Murnane, Sales Representative,
HealthLab at Northwestern Medicine Chicago, Ill.
In her bestselling book, “Grit, the Power of Passion and Perseverance,” Angela Duckworth maintains that grit, more than talent or IQ, is a more reliable predictor of success. Sean Murnane combines all three and was an easy pick for recognition through the first annual National Sales Excellence Awards, presented by The Dark Report and Dark Daily at this year’s Executive War College in New Orleans.
Award Winner’s Competitive Zeal Leads to a Stint in the NFL
It did not take long to understand why Sean Murnane, 29, swept the competition in his category. “I’m a classic overachiever,” said Sean. “I’ve always been competitive.”
At 6’1” and weighing in at 220 pounds, Sean was a natural for football. He played in high school in his home town in suburban Chicago. When he set his sights on college football, the naysayers told him he did not have the ideal size for it. Murnane was not deterred. “I’m creative and think outside-the-box when it comes to achieving what I set out to do,” he offered freely. Sean elaborated on how he used creativity and innovative thinking. “I called every football school and asked for the head coach. I found his and his secretary’s numbers.
“It’s a numbers game and requires not letting anything faze you. I don’t let myself get too up or too down. I just keep working. I ended up getting a full scholarship playing defensive tackle for Central Michigan University.”
By 2011, Murnane, then a 291-pounder, had been added to the Chicago Bears training camp roster as a non-drafted free agent.
By this point in the interview, I was pretty dazzled. But how did Sean Murnane go from NFL to healthcare sales? I asked him.
True Grit Translates into Top Achievements in the Field and Classroom
“My tenure with the Bears was brief, but I learned a lot,” he said confidently. “I’m hugely competitive. If I’m not competing, I’m not living. Sales can be lucrative and I knew I could do well and compete for business.”
Armed with a BA in marketing, Sean secured a position and did well selling medical devices. From there he moved into hospital laboratory outreach—another interesting story.
Qualities that recruiters look for in a prospective sales rep usually do not include being late to your interview.
“Sean showed up for his interview out of breath, no tie, huffing and puffing,” recalled Seth Rainford, Vice President at HealthLab, with a laugh, “Concerned, I asked if he was okay. Sean looked at me apologetically and said, ‘I’m sorry, I’ll go to the bathroom and put this on.’ He had a tie in his hand. At the time, he was working for a medical device company and explained that he had been detained at a surgery.
“I couldn’t believe this guy. I told the other managers that he was the one. He had me at ‘I’ll go to the bathroom and put this on!’ His commitment to his work—his passion and pure determination—it showed. He reminded me of the Grit book.”
Here are the impressive statistics that made Sean Murnane a winner:
• Started at HealthLab four years ago, top-grossing sales representative for past three years;
• In 2015, achieved 151% of quota, with $2.4 million in net revenue;
• In 2015, produced $3 million, thus his 2014-2015 total was $5.3 million in new revenue;
• Gained 21 new accounts in 2015, with 105 physicians now referring tests to HealthLab;
• It bears mentioning that, during these high-performance years with HealthLab, Sean earned an MBA from Purdue and finished number one in his class!
Staying Informed, Responsiveness to Clients to Maintain Competitive Edge
When I asked Sean what he did to maintain that competitive edge he did not hesitate. “In order to develop new clients and increase specimen volume, I have to add real value. I prepare in advance. I read about what other labs are doing and learn what works well. I read The Dark Report. I focus on building strong relationships and always respond promptly to address any client concerns.”
Rainford added, “Internally, our hospital laboratory outreach program is allowed to operate as our own business unit. To generate new clients, we’ve focused on bridging the gap between sales and operations. Our lab staff has thus shifted from a silo mentality to a cooperation mindset. Our line-of-sight approach helps by allowing us to tie bonuses to increased volumes and positive client satisfaction scores.”
I got off the phone feeling inspired just talking with these two guys. I thought it interesting that both had been on mission trips to other countries as youngsters and took away a deep sense of service to others that reflects in their work.
According to a study published in the March 2015 Harvard Business Review, sales performance is more likely dependent on the attributes of the individual and sales environment characteristics than on company-related influences. Here was a case where it appears the exceptional attributes of the individual and the innovative, progressive “company-related influences” at Northwestern Health have combined to form a truly formidable team.
—Pamela Scherer McLeod
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Dark Report National Lab Sales Excellence Awards will be presented for the second year at the Executive War College in New Orleans on May 2-3, 2017. Details and nominating forms will be available on the website this fall. Awards for 2017 will be based on sales production for calendar 2016 and nominations must be made by the sales professional’s sales manager or senior administrator.