On the Health Record - Interview with Marjon Harvey, DrChrono’s VP of Sales

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We recently interviewed our own VP of Sales, Marjon Harvey, to discuss the unconventional path that led her to a leadership role at DrChrono, the importance of diversity in tech, managing a sales team during a pandemic and much more. You can listen to the full podcast episode here.

I’d love to hear a bit more about you before you were at DrChrono. Where are you from originally, and what did you study in college?

I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. I went to undergrad at a school called Scripps College, where I studied chemistry and biology. I found my way up north to the Bay Area for graduate school, where I was pursuing my doctorate in chemistry at Stanford University, and that leads into my DrChrono story.

How does pursuing a PhD in chemistry lead to DrChrono?

The way that I found DrChrono was serendipitous. I was much more academia-oriented before. I thought I was going to go into scientific research or maybe work at a pharmaceutical company, given that I was pursuing my doctorate in chemistry. Along the way I realized that lifestyle was not for me. While it focuses on very interesting topics, research is a solitary occupation, and I get energized working with other people and being able to communicate with other people on a regular basis in my job. So my academic advisor and I had a hard chat about whether it was the path for me, and I decided that ultimately it wasn’t. From there, it was kind of confusing where to go, because I’d been so focused on this path.

I went to a career fair to try to see what options I had and what companies were out there. I ran into DrChrono, and Daniel Kivatinos, our COO, approached me and was like, “Hey, are you looking for a job here?” And I said right away, “I’m not a computer scientist.” But he said they were looking for all roles, and in my naivete, I told him that I just like to talk to people and that’s what I want in my next role. He was like, “Great, we’re looking for sales individuals.”

When I went to the interview, I thought my map took me to the wrong place. Some male team member opened the door to the apartment. He was on the phone and just signaled me in. I was a little unsure if I was at the right place, but then I saw the tables in what you would consider a family room. It was definitely a startup environment. I interviewed with Michael, our CEO, and Daniel, and a couple of sales team members at the time. I just had a really awesome time chatting with them and learning more about DrChrono.

Let’s talk about the award that you won recently. Congratulations on being named one of the top 25 women in healthcare software. Can you tell me a bit about the award?

First of all, I’m honored to have been recognized, and it’s helped validate a lot of the work that I’ve put in throughout the years, and it was exciting to know that I’d been nominated. Both in my individual contributor role as a sales account executive at DrChrono, and in my management role, I have some accomplishments I’m proud of. As an individual contributor, I currently still hold the record of most monthly recurring revenue brought in for the whole year. I was just shy of $100,000 in 2015. That’s an accomplishment that I’m proud of, but I know that there’s a couple of members on the sales team today that will hopefully break that record because records are meant to be broken. As a manager, I am the most proud of what my team accomplishes, because if they’re successful, then I’m successful. Being able to support all of the different sales team members has been a really awesome role that I get to have as VP of sales.

Why do you think it’s important to have these types of awards?

I think that many industries are male dominated, so there’s not too many women to pick from for these types of awards. You’ll see the award lists dominated by males, which are awesome in their own right, but to add more diversity to the list, it’s important to have more specific awards. Recognizing females means they can be seen as role models for other females who might be on the fence about whether to get into an industry that might not seem like it’s a fit for them, because it is so male dominated.

Something that’s more openly discussed now are the obstacles women face in tech companies, as well as leadership positions both in and outside of tech. Can you speak to some of the challenges that you’ve faced to get to where you are today, or maybe some of the challenges you still face on a regular basis?

One thing that I think most people experience, but don’t necessarily talk about, is Imposter Syndrome. It tends to be experienced more by females, but there are plenty of males that experience it as well. It’s really just not recognizing our worth and our skillset and being worried that others are going to call us out as a fraud when really we have the skills needed to take on whatever challenge presents itself to us.

It definitely helps to have someone to talk to, because we’re always our harshest critic. If we were talking to a friend, we would not talk as harshly as we do to ourselves. So having an actual friend to share those thoughts with whether it be an executive coach, a partner or friend, is helpful. I think it’s important to remind ourselves of the accomplishments we do have and reliving challenges that we’ve overcome and using that to add evidence to the fact that we are able to overcome other challenges that we may face in the future.

This year at DrChrono, we put together a diversity and inclusion panel of our own, which you are a member of. Can you talk about the mission of that group?

Yeah. I’m really excited that we are formalizing this initiative at DrChrono. I think it’s something that has always been part of the culture and that we’ve talked about informally, but to formalize it puts more substance and weight against what this committee is going to be able to do.The mission is to make sure that there’s equitable opportunity for everyone at the company, all of the customers that we service and all of the patients that they service. For our employees, that means equitable career growth, equitable pay, as well as making sure that we are an empathetic community that listens to one another and is compassionate towards one another, regardless of title or attributes.

I think the more diversity you have, the more opinions there are and the more ideas and perspectives the company can use to come up with some really great ideas. Having all those different perspectives really helps a company make sure they’re thinking about the pros and the cons, and ultimately you end up with better solutions, whether it be for your product or how you treat your employees or your customers.

Do you think adding diversity to these kinds of leadership boards could have a positive effect on patient health outcomes?

Absolutely. With DrChrono specifically, our main customers are the doctors and the practices, but we also try to be cognizant of who their patients are, and the more perspectives and different backgrounds that we have at DrChrono, the better we can build a product to support all the diverse patients that our customers serve.

Let’s talk about another side of things. Can you speak to what’s challenging about leading a remote sales team? What are some of the difficulties of selling software remotely?

Any manager during this pandemic will tell you that it’s hard to manage time. There is a lot going on for our employees that’s outside our control - the pandemic being the biggest one - but also being shut in our homes, not having as many outlets to let off steam in our personal life, not being able to go to restaurants or go to bars or go watch a movie. That has an impact on anyone’s morale, so managing during this time is hard because as a manager, you want to make things better. You want to do what you can to support your team and to lift their spirits during the pandemic. You can only do so much, and morale is still going to be low because of what everyone’s experiencing in their personal lives. So what I’ve tried to focus on is what is in my control to help my team and support my team. Just let them know that I’m here for them, and I think DrChrono is doing a really good job as a whole supporting its employees, especially their wellbeing, during this time.

I’m trying to just be as curious as possible on what is affecting my team. What are the pain points that they’re experiencing? I try to just elicit as much feedback as possible from the team and see what I can do with it.

You’ve come a long way since you were a research student at Stanford. Research is very different from sales. What do you enjoy about sales, and what’s kept you in it for so long?

I’d argue that they’re not too different. The skills that I gained during my previous career really helped me in sales. There is always an ongoing debate if sales is more of a science or an art. Back in the day when we had door-to-door sales, it was definitely more of an art. How could you be more persuasive? How could you frame your words differently? But a lot of the sales industry, including myself now, see it more as a science, as we’re working with prospective customers who are more knowledgeable and do a lot of research on their own. To me, I actually see it as a science, similar to the science of chemistry that I worked on in my prior role. I also enjoy learning about the different practices that we’re working with and what are the problems that they have running their business and servicing their patients. What I find most exciting is being able to solve those problems specifically with the DrChrono platform and the services that we offer.

Since you’re talking about approaching sales scientifically, how have you been able to improve your sales approach over time?

The way that I’ve been able to improve it is by thinking about the problem scientifically and doing a lot of research. That’s where the active listening and curiosity comes in - getting as much information as possible from the client that I’m working with and then figuring out the right process that’s going to work for them. It’s also great to do experiments. I would say that for our SDR team members who are making 60 calls a day, being able to A/B test the way that they leave voicemails and then collecting the data is another way to approach sales scientifically.

Want to listen to more? Listen to the full podcast episode here.