What is Sandbagging?
• Hiding future orders from management
• Understating potential sales
Why do Salespeople “Sandbag”?
They don’t trust their management:
• They want to avoid unwanted attention
• They want to avoid target creep
Avoid Unwanted Attention
• Believe it or not - sales people with big deals
on the table get more attention than those
with no deals on the table!
• Attention tends to be audit and compliance
based – checking up not assisting
• Mad isn’t it. Surely management should help
those without deals!
To Avoid Target Creep
• Once a deal is known, particularly if it affects a
future year (with a target yet to be set), it can get
incorporated into a salesperson’s next year target
• Increased target means decreased earnings for
• Salesperson feels undervalued ( and is) as his
hard work (in year) is not rewarded, it gets
sucked into next years “normal”.
Why is Sandbagging bad?
More deals come in than are forecast
– Not enough equipment in inventory
• Long lead times = unhappy customers
– Not enough people to make and support the
equipment or service that has been sold
• Quality and responsiveness drops = unhappy customers
– Stock Market thinks you are not in control of your
• Share price drops = ability to invest drops = unhappy
Management behaviour that causes mistrust
• Target creep
– Deal is in the pipeline, so increase salesperson’s
goal to drive extra effort
• Deep deal analysis
– Distrust of salesperson
• Might be sandbagging
• Might cock-up the deal
• Might not bring the deal in quickly enough
– Focus on forecast accuracy vs pipeline creation
Negative Trust Circle
self fulfilling prophecy!
Mgt doesn’t trust
AM sandbags to
avoid pressure =
Set high targets
as AM must be
AM expects to be
OVER goaled so
sets a low
How does Oversight go bad
• Weighing the pig mode
• Over and early commit
• Need to cover lost deals
Management enter “weighing the pig” mode.
• Mgt commits deals to higher management to get the
needed forecast. Promise the pig for Christmas dinner
• Belief (possibly true) that Salespeople need “motivating” to
honour the commit. - They apply pressure.
• But stressed individuals work less effectively than motivated ones!
• Mgt becomes worried that the pig isn’t big enough to feed
everyone so they keep weighing it – or keep reviewing the
• Reviewing – doesn’t make the deal stronger, it steals time
– Weighing the pig, stops the pig being fed!
• Desire to make Executives and Shareholders
• Leads to committing more than one should
• At crunch time, there is a gap
• Management exert pressure to close the gap
Need to Cover Lost Deals
• Binary – singular and large deals, when lost
cause a big hole in a committed forecast
• Management want to “hit” the forecast
– Pressurize other existing deals to come in earlier!
– Sales people hate pressure
• bad motivation technique – so they sandbag to give
• They under-forecast binary deals
• Reward truthfulness
• Punish dishonesty
• Be authentic and consistent
• Enough said – good leadership principles apply
Lead and Coach
• Help Salespeople get more deals in the
pipeline – team based selling
• Help sales people land more deals quicker- by
coaching and then rewarding great
behaviours, not policing behaviour!
– Allow slipped deals,
– Reward accuracy instead of punishing inaccuracy
– Coach improved selling technique including
– Protect Binary deals with cover and adequately
Protect the Salesforce
• Lots of internal pressures to get accuracy -
from operations and finance
• Ensure balance hence enabling the Sale
person to do his job and accurately forecast
– Eg CRM tool malaise:
• often favour forecasting based requirements > which is
• helping the salesperson which is information-OUT
For help on this