PACLAB’s effective use of clinical laboratory sales reps demonstrates how effective collaboration between sales and operations can help an outreach lab increase specimen volume and expand its market share
Despite falling prices for clinical laboratory testing and payers increasingly excluding labs from their provide networks, savvy hospitals and health systems continue to enjoy profitable laboratory outreach programs. One common factor shared by these successful hospital lab outreach businesses is that they support productive lab sales representatives.
To tell the story of how effective lab sales reps contribute to the ongoing success of the hospital lab outreach programs they serve, The Dark Report initiated the clinical lab industry’s first-ever program of national recognition for top-performing lab sales representatives. These awards were launched in May 2016, at the 21st Annual Executive War College on Laboratory and Pathology Management (EWC). At that time, The Dark Report also announced the first winners of the National Lab Sales Excellence Awards contest.
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.
By establishing a national lab sales excellence awards program, The Dark Report does two things of value to the clinical laboratory industry:
1. First, it brings recognition to the accomplishments of these lab sales professionals.
2. 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 and increase specimen volume, and do it in a way that solidifies the financial performance of their laboratories.
What follows is the fifth and final profile of the 2016 winners of The Dark Report’s National Laboratory Sales Excellence Awards. Our writer, Pamela Scherer McLeod, interviewed each of the lab sales winners, as well as one of their senior managers or executives. Each profile that she has written provides readers of Dark Daily with a full picture of the contributions that each lab sales professional has made to his or her parent organization.
—Dark Daily Editor, Robert L. Michel
National Lab Sales Excellence Award Winner 2016
Category: Hospital Outreach Lab Sales
Gabe Licka, Regional Sales Manager
PACLAB Network, Renton, Washington
“PACLAB Regional Sales Manager, Gabe Licka, Receives National Lab Sales Excellence Award.”
So reads the banner at the top of the Pathology Associates Medical Laboratories (PAML) website news page. The large white letters on the bright orange background almost shout out in celebration of one of its own. I mention this for a reason: it captures the unmistakable mindset projected by award winner Gabe Licka and the PACLAB/PAML laboratory network: bold determination to achieve excellence.
PACLAB Network Laboratories is an integrated network of seven hospitals plus a reference laboratory. It serves physicians and patients in western Washington, and was established in 1995 to provide the local community with more lab testing choice.
PAML, LLC, of Spokane, Wash., is a PACLAB member that provides administrative, business, and reference testing services to the venture.
“In the northwest, there is a strong ‘buy local’ mindset,” observed Licka, during an interview with Dark Daily. “It’s a local, one-stop-shopping atmosphere with local physicians who want to support the local laboratories.”
Licka shies away from the spotlight and is quick to redirect accolades toward his team. “Our sales reps are seasoned professionals. They’ve been in this market a long time. That combination in a ‘buy local’ region helps our success.”
“Under Gabe’s leadership, in 2015, the sales team achieved an impressive 128%, 149%, and 317% of quota and added 104 new accounts,” noted Kathy Teitzel, PACLAB General Manager.
Essential Role of Lab Sales Reports in Support of PACLAB
PACLAB’s model also presents challenges. “Our sales team must be well-versed in the nuances of the eight different organizations,” stated Teitzel.
“There are seven hospital systems, plus PAML, and there are interoperability issues,” Licka noted. “That can make for complexity in how we manage our book of business. Client accounts must be set up to ensure that results flow effectively. Factoring in the client, vendor, and in-house IT components can be difficult when there is a problem. That’s when our sales reps and service team get the IT people from all components together and facilitate a solution in real time.”
Licka also credits PACLAB’s culture of frequent communications between sales and operations for his team’s success. “I meet regularly with our executive team,” he stated. “The more Sales understands organizational goals, the stronger our component is. And it gives us the opportunity to share with Operations valuable information acquired through our constant contact with customers.
“As healthcare and clinical laboratory testing becomes increasingly complex, there will be more need for real-time information about trends in the market,” observed Licka. “Lab outreach programs that have well-interfaced communications between Operations and Sales will be better positioned for success.”
Teitzel agreed. “I don’t buy into the silo thinking that there is a natural tension between Operations and Sales,” she told Dark Daily. “I’m on the phone with Gabe several times every day. If there’s something our lab sales rep needs to bring in new business—such as a new courier route or adding a phlebotomist—we do what we can to accommodate. Our clients appreciate that level of collaboration between Operations and Sales.”
The Bold and the Patient
If PACLAB/PAML is an innovative organization of bold-thinking individuals, it’s easy to see how Gabe Licka fits right in. In the interview with Dark Daily he shared a vignette from his teenage years: Prior to starting his junior year of high school, Licka decided to spend his junior year as a foreign exchange student in Germany. Off he went to Biedenkopf, a small town 71 miles north of Frankfurt that’s known for its picturesque timberwork buildings and Kartoffeln braten, a sort of pan-roasted potato dish. One would assume young Licka was at least conversant in German. “Actually,” he said, “I had two years of Spanish.”
Undeterred by the language barrier, Licka took a German language intensive and completed a year of studies—calculus, poetry, history, biology—taught in German. “I never minded a challenge,” he stated. “I have a strong work ethic and I’m very optimistic.”
Not only is Licka daring, he is also known for his patient approach to business development. “In a fast-paced sales environment, a patient approach can be difficult to exercise, but is often essential when dealing with very large prospects,” Teitzel told Dark Daily. “Gabe and his team have brought on major accounts because of his patient approach to developing and maintaining relationships, sometimes over several years.”
Licka went on to earn a degree in biology from the University of Washington. As a student, he got a job managing the supplies storeroom for a local clinical laboratory. “I chose to work in a laboratory because of my interest in biology and chemistry, and because they were open 24/7 and had positions available,” Licka stated. He moved through various roles in the lab, including lab assistant, logistics, and other positions when needed in the laboratory. Upon graduation, he was offered a position in Sales.
And, as the saying goes, “the rest is history.”
—Pamela Scherer McLeod