It started with a pipeline review. The pipeline was anemic, despite having discussed this problem for some time, there was no change–at least for the positive. Some opportunities we had hoped for had fallen out or been deferred (Yet another time). No new opportunities had been qualified. Prospecting seemed to be sporadic and unfocused.

If you have been on a pipeline review with me, you may be thinking I’m singling you out. Sadly, I wish this was the exception, but at least 70% of the reviews I participate in have these characteristics. So feel bad, but know you aren’t being singled out.

The CRO asked, “What can we do about this? How are we going to hit our numbers? What do we need to be doing differently in your territory?”

“I guess we are going to have to chalk this year up as a miss and focus on next year….” responded the sales manager.

“But we’re only midway through the year, we have to find a way to fix this, what can we do? How can we help you and your team?”

“Well, it’s marketing, if they only got us the right number of leads…..”

“We can’t catch the attention of our partners…..”

“People don’t respond to ‘cold calls,’ they are a thing of the past…”

“Our competition is much better positioned than we are in a few areas, plus they have more resources…..”

The CRO was amazingly patient, “But what are you doing to figure out how to overcome these challenges? What do you need from me to help? What do you need from others in the company to help?”

“Have you spoken to your peers and others in the company? There are a lot of things they are doing that seem to be working for them. You might try some of those things…..”

“I’ll do whatever you tell me to do….” responded the sales manager.

The CRO lost his patience, I had lost my patience far earlier. “Isn’t your job to figure these things out? Isn’t it your job to seek help and assistance on these problems?”

As leaders, our job is to figure out what we have to do to achieve the goals for which we are accountable. We are responsible for making sure we are doing the things and working with our people to maximize their ability to achieve the goals for which they are accountable.

We don’t do that alone, we work with others in the organization and our people to do this. We get help from our managers, but we have to figure out what help we need and get it.

Whether we are managers or sales people, we are problem solvers–whether within our organizations or with our customers. It’s our job to figure things out, to develop strategies and take action to correct things when we are off target.