Although sales sandbagging is widely practiced in organizations, you should avoid it at all costs since the downsides far outweigh the benefits.
In today’s post, we take a stand against the controversial practice and offer several alternatives to combat this problematic sales culture in your company.
What is Sales Sandbagging?
Sales sandbagging is a controversial move where a sales rep deliberately delays a sales deal until the following month, creating a false impression that they have outperformed their target.
Why You Shouldn’t Sandbag
There’s a mixed response with sales sandbagging.
Several sales representatives advocate it, citing capped commissions and bonuses for driving them to under promise and over deliver their deals. User Badgerst8, too, is a fan of the practice and justifies it on Reddit:
“ABS. Always Be Sandbagging. Management will grumble, but they'll happily take the revenue when they can get it.”
On the other hand, many C-suite sales executives are against it. Kyle Parrish, a VP of sales at MixMax, vents on LinkedIn:
“If you continually do this, you'll end up with a reputation as a sandbagger and it will cause your VP of sales to overestimate what you're going to close in that period.”
At Breadcrumbs, while we understand the reasons behind sales sandbagging, we recommend avoiding it at all costs. Here’s why.
1. It leads to dangerously wrong sales forecasts
Sales sandbagging and sales forecasting don’t go well together, period.
When sales reps sandbag their deals, it causes a lack of transparency in the sales pipeline, eventually leading to a wildly inaccurate forecast.
This inaccuracy often results in poor performance and unsuccessful revenue goals. According to Sage, accurate sales forecasts are linked to better year-over-year (YOY) performance.
Based on Gartner’s State of Sales Operations Survey, these sales forecast inaccuracies often lead to expensive consequences, such as:
- Bad short-term financial decisions: Flawed data leads to poor spending decisions. Sales leaders may implement or cut out sales initiatives based on perceived needs (e.g., unmet revenue expectations might lead the company to pause the sales team expansion).
- Wrong moves regarding key deals: Poor-quality data causes higher-ups to make moves that they think are good for the business (spoiler: it’s not). For example, the CRO might approve a hefty discount they normally don’t give out if they think they need the deal to hit their target for the current quarter, when in reality, it makes no difference.
- Negative impact on external guidelines: This is a big one for public companies with investors. Bad sales forecasting data may lead to a correction in a company’s guidance to investors, ultimately affecting stock price and analyst confidence.
Too much is at stake here. Sales sandbagging is largely based on intuition, and is never a good idea.
2. It damages trust
Sales managers often face pressure from the higher-ups to provide accurate sales forecasts to shape important business decisions.
Hence, the constant inaccuracies caused by sandbagging will eventually land them and the sales rep in hot water.
“[Sandbagging] might be fine in a normal month, but what about when you don’t have enough deals to under promise and over deliver? Your VP of sales will have counted on you over delivering because you consistently have in the past. This is where sandbagging can really hurt.”Kyle Parrish, VP of sales at Mixmax, in a post about sales sandbagging on LinkedIn
It’s only a matter of time before the rep hurts their reputation, relationship with their manager, and the business’s bottom line.
3. It loses you customers
Sales sandbagging also affects folks at the other end of the spectrum: customers.
Prolonging active deals lead to potential slow-downs and risk frustrating clients.
This is not to be taken lightly, given that 41% of b2b buyers said that issues with speed of delivery stopped them from completing purchases.
Never delay deals after scoring a prospective customer’s attention and winning them over. Otherwise, you risk changing their mind and switching to competitors.
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How to Weed Out Sales Sandbagging in Your Organization?
Now that we’ve convinced you of the dangers of sales sandbagging, let’s explore how you can eliminate this culture in your company.
To start off, consider reviewing your sales commission plans.
You need a commission structure that lets your company remain profitable and attracts and retains top sales talent simultaneously.
Before updating your sales commission structure, analyze the average sales commission rates by industry (tip: here’s a great one from HubSpot).
Your comp plans should also reflect the current sales culture in your company.
For instance, if all your reps are reaching their targets consistently, opt for a tiered commission plan. On the other hand, if you work with long-term clients (think agencies and consulting firms), go with a residual commission structure. Another unique alternative is to reward sales reps who maintain a certain level of sales forecasting accuracy.
A PLG CRM platform combines your customer and product data in a single place.
Instead of a traditional CRM with siloed data that only the sales department can access, a PLG CRM suite is a central source of truth where everyone in the revenue team has instant access.
Having all customer insights in one place is vital to streamline your workflow and collaborate with other departments. Plus, it helps you refine the product experience, improves the user experience, and accelerates revenue without requiring you to click through multiple tabs.
Here’s what we mean. When you use a PLG CRM, the:
- Marketing team can analyze specific marketing campaigns and identify their best-performing themes and which ones produce the biggest ROI
- Sales team can quickly identify prospects with high buying intent and customers with cross- and upsell potential, with zero guesswork
- Customer success team can provide personalized support with context and prevent churn from happening, thanks to instant access to customers’ web activity
- Product team can refine the product and keep everyone else in the loop with the latest changes
Companies with over 60% of the sales staff using CRMs are more likely to hit their sales quotas. Here’s how you can replicate their success:
- Connect your data sources with Breadcrumbs (i.e., CRM like HubSpot and product analytics tool like Pendo)
- Determine what makes a sales-qualified lead (SQL) [e.g., Marketing manager from a $5M ARR company who downloads a white paper and signs up for a free trial]
- Set scoring model live
Leads will score points when they fulfill your predetermined criteria.
Once they hit a threshold, Breadcrumbs will send all scoring information back to your PLG CRM, notifying you of the sales opportunity.
Likewise, you can review how users interact with your product without leaving the CRM ecosystem. You’ll be able to answer questions like:
- “What features do users love the most?”
- “What features do users dislike the most?”
- “Where do users get stuck?”
- “Where do users drop off in onboarding?”
Get a holistic view of all customer activity in one place. Book a 30-minute personalized demo with Breadcrumbs to connect all customer data across different touchpoints in a central source of truth today.
Eliminate the Sales Sandbagging Culture in Your Company with Breadcrumbs Today
The downsides of sales sandbagging outweigh the advantages by a mile.
Not only does the controversial approach create a wildly inaccurate forecast and damage trust with the higher-ups, it also ruins the rep’s reputation and relationships with customers.
A better way is to review your sales commission structure and ensure your best-performing salespeople are rewarded while remaining profitable.
Last but not the least, encourage your sales team to use a PLG CRM in their existing sales stack.
Book a 30-minute personalized demo with Breadcrumbs to bring ALL your customer data in one place, identify your hottest leads, and achieve your sales targets by tenfold today.