How To Use Data To Put An End To Sandbagging

For those of you not familiar with the term, in sales, “sandbagging” is when someone hides deals or pushes out close dates to limit expectations on the company or an individual to then exceed anticipated results. Everyone does it — salespeople, sales managers, and even VPs.

Sales sandbagging is a rampant issue that can be solved with data. By understanding how to identify and respond to sandbaggers, you put yourself in a much better position to achieve your sales goals. 

Are you ready to start using data to improve your sales process? Read on to find out how you can use data to identify and put an end to sandbagging.

Why Salespeople Sandbag

There are a few common reasons that many salespeople sandbag:

  • The salesperson previously had a great quarter and lacks confidence she can repeat the success.
  • The salesperson is at or about to hit their number and wants to give themselves some padding for the next quarter.
  • Sales leadership doesn’t want the quarter-over-quarter performance to appear choppy.

If Everyone is Doing It, Why is Sandbagging a Bad Thing?

If everyone is sandbagging, then it can’t be that bad, right? As a sales leader, I have to disagree. Here are some reasons why sales managers should avoid sandbagging:

Sandbagging Undermines Your Performance

Sandbagging is bad because it blocks the business from maximizing its potential. In a modern world, a business needs to fire on all cylinders 24/7. Otherwise, market forces, competitors, or a combination of both will kill it.

Sandbagging is like electronic speed limits that are installed on many modern cars. However, in business, the only way to win is to have your business operate at the max performance, like the so-called “Ludicrous mode” in a Tesla.

So, in effect, your company’s sandbaggers are keeping your company in the slow lane — and you can’t afford to be there.

It Can Tarnish Your Business’ Reputation

Say your business downplays its projected performance for the quarter, only to boast impressive returns come judgment day. That’s great, but what if it happens over and over again?

Investors and shareholders will eventually tag your business as a sandbagger and expect better performance in the next quarters. Worse, they could start to hold high expectations that you may not be able to meet. Fail to meet these standards and, along with your history of sandbagging, stakeholders could peg you as a business that can’t deliver consistent results — and ultimately has no confidence to even try.

It Can Make You Miss Important Opportunities 

When sales managers sandbag, they try to hold off on closing deals so as not to exceed their monthly or quarterly quota. But by choosing to prolong active deals, sales professionals run the risk of clients losing interest and seeking out competitors who have no problem closing right away. 

By taking their time on current deals, sales professionals also deprive themselves of the opportunity to pursue more deals.

How to Identify Sandbaggers with Data

Luckily, it’s easy to use sales activity data to identify potential sandbagging activity. Here are two common scenarios to look for:

  • An account with a lot of activities that looks like a completed sales process without an open opportunity.
  • An opportunity that has activities that look like “ready to buy” signals (lots of meetings with champions, C-level/exec meetings leading up to the quarter end, etc.).

You can monitor digital interactions to look out for these ready-to-buy signals using AI-powered tools. These tools can track things like common call topics, frequencies, and durations, and analyze whether these point to the behaviors commonly associated with prolonging deals. Sales agents can be monitored by analyzing the rate at which they complete tasks, resolve calls, get back to clients, and the like.

How to Respond to Sandbagging

With that mind in, you might be asking yourself about the next steps to end sandbagging in your organization. Using your sales activity data, start by identifying which individuals are possibly sandbagging deals.

Set up a one-on-one with them and show them why you believe the data is showing you a different story than what is being forecasted. Then, do a deep dive of their current deals to see which are potentially sandbagged and create an action plan to close them within the quarter.

It is possible the salesperson was unaware of what they were doing and just needed some coaching and feedback. But regardless of the intention, this process will show you which deals could close now to get your company out of the slow lane.

And while imposing strict rules and reiterating the consequences of sandbagging to your employees could work, this scare tactic could just drive sales reps to feel the pressure even more. Instead, make sure that your sales professionals feel safe enough to take risks and perform at a level they are comfortable with — without fearing the repercussions. 

To see how People.ai can help you use your sales activity data to uncover and address sandbagging, schedule a demo today.

The Bottom Line

Sandbagging is a problem because it hurts the trust and transparency in sales relationships. It can also lead to sub-par results for companies when deals are finally closed. But, with data, we have a powerful tool to identify sandbaggers and hold them accountable.

Sales teams should work together to track how leads progress through the funnel so that everyone can be on the same page about what’s really happening. When we all know what to expect, there is no need for sandbagging behavior and everybody can focus on doing their best work. 

How will you put an end to sandbagging in your organization?

For those of you not familiar with the term, in sales, “sandbagging” is when someone hides deals or pushes out close dates to limit expectations on the company or an individual to then exceed anticipated results. Everyone does it — salespeople, sales managers, and even VPs.

Sales sandbagging is a rampant issue that can be solved with data. By understanding how to identify and respond to sandbaggers, you put yourself in a much better position to achieve your sales goals. 

Are you ready to start using data to improve your sales process? Read on to find out how you can use data to identify and put an end to sandbagging.