What is Sandbagging in Sales? (Reasons, Pros & Cons)

Sandbagging is a sales tactic where salespeople set lower expectations, hide or withhold information about their deals. They usually use this tactic to create this image where they underestimate and over-perform in front of their managers. This can be for perks, promotions, rewards, and other forms of recognition.

Here are the advantages I’ll cover: creates a positive reputation, helps predict the certainty of a deal, and increases confidence in new reps. The blog will also cover the disadvantages of sandbagging that is, it creates mistrust and provides less guarantee.

Every salesperson wants to exceed their performance and shatter the glass ceiling.

Imagine managers saying, “I never thought Joyce would bag that deal but she did” or “the client was half a foot in and out, but somehow John closed the deal”.

To close deals, salespeople implement different tactics to sell products and services. One such strategy of theirs is called sandbagging which helps sales representatives exceed and crush their goals.

Sandbagging is a harmless tactic but sometimes can damage the individual and company as a whole.

This blog will cover what sandbagging is in sales, why salespeople use it, its benefits, and disadvantages.

What is Sandbagging in Sales?

Sandbagging is delaying the close of a sale until a later date or withholding critical information about the sale. Salespeople usually do it to improve sales quotas against their supervisors' expectations.

Simply put, salespeople set lower expectations with their managers and exceed their targets.

When a salesperson is sandbagging they might not disclose the full details of the deal, set low expectations, or drag the duration of the deal till the deadline.

4 Reasons Why Sales Reps Use Sandbagging

Here are some common motivations as to why sales representatives sandbag:

1. To exceed expectations

When a salesperson consistently sets low expectations and then exceeds them, it can create the impression that they’re a high performer. This can lead to recognition and rewards, and also give a boost of confidence.

But how does sandbagging work here?

Let’s say a salesperson’s quota is $25 million/quarter and they withhold all information about a $40 million enterprise deal they’re working on.

However, the salesperson notifies their manager only during the closing stages of the deal. When the deal finally closes, they’ll be able to exceed their quota and also impress their manager.

The final numbers between assigned and won for that particular representative will be higher, therefore showcasing them as a high-performer.

Learn about 9 surefire ways you can boost sales performance.

2. To divert attention

By diverting attention using the sandbagging strategy, salespeople can reduce the pressure on a particular task.

For instance, if a salesperson works on a high-profile deal, all eyes can be on them – increasing the pressure. By sandbagging the attention of their superiors and colleagues can be diverted.

It also helps representatives speak to their teams once things are finalized or if something materializes.

3. To manage expectations

Sandbagging can reduce the unrealistic pressure and expectations the senior management has on salespeople.

Especially for high-performers, if there’s a risky deal, chances are that managers might pressurize representatives to close it. By sandbagging, sales reps can delay the progress and information on the task.

If the representative doesn’t disclose details about the entire deal to their superiors, and if the deal slips through their hands, there will be no risk to the salesperson. They can close other deals and go on as always to attain their quota.

4. To create momentum

A salesperson can hold to a deal and close it just a few weeks after the quarter has begun. This counts towards their new quota and also shows their prowess in closing faster.

If it’s a high-budget deal, then it helps the salesperson close and be ahead of their quota allocated – creating momentum.

Top 3 Benefits of Sandbagging

Even though sandbagging is not the most sought-after strategy (as it creates a false sense of the deal pipeline), there can be a few benefits attached to it.

Let’s see what are the benefits of sandbagging:

1. Opportunity to earn more incentives

Sandbagging helps representatives stay in the constant eyes of the management.


If the representative keeps overperforming and impresses the management, they might be qualified for certain perks. It also shows the management that they can meet their set quotas on time and overperform.

Additionally, through sandbagging, sales representatives can earn sizable promotions or sales bonuses that help in career progression.

2. Helps maximize the certainty of a deal

Sandbagging helps the representative gather more time till they’re confident about the deal.

With riskier clients, it's hard to give a definitive answer immediately.

Additionally, the representative can postpone the conversation till they feel confident about it.

This allows them extra time to align with the prospect, forecast and gather more information – in turn reducing external pressure to perform.

3. Increases confidence in new-joiners

If you’re new to a team, sandbagging can help you learn about the company's sales processes.

For instance, if the sales team has a pipeline of $2 million, the new representative can sandbag the details of the deal till they get a hang of the sales process.

Once done,  they’ll feel more confident about the first deal, provide accurate information, and prepare sales reports.

This strategy helps the representative ease into the team and also perform better without feeling the pressure to surpass expectations.

2 Major Cons of Sandbagging

Sandbagging is useful when it’s done in moderation. But some representatives sandbag extensively which can be detrimental.

Here are a few drawbacks of continuous sandbagging:

1. Less guarantee

In today’s world, your business needs to keep all buttons switched on to bag a deal and also compete with external market forces and competitors.

Sandbagging can be a slow process and block your business from reaching its fullest potential.

So, if your representatives are sandbagging you’re losing out on key details. For instance, if a customer wants to close a deal early and the representative is sandbagging, chances are that the customer might slip through the cracks.

The main aim for the representative and the organization should be that the prospect chooses your product or service over a competitor because the process is much faster.

2. Creates mistrust

If a salesperson continues to set low expectations, they may eventually reach a point where they’re unable to exceed their targets. This can lead to broken promises, which can further damage the salesperson's reputation.

Additionally, when a salesperson is consistently sandbagging, it creates an impression that they’re not a reliable team member. The team can start doubting the salesperson’s ability to deliver and lose interest in the company’s services.

This in turn creates a negative impact and affect the perception of the company’s reputation.

Eventually, if people start mistrusting the sales representative, they can back off from using the organization’s product or services too!

Wrap Up

Sure, sandbagging comes with tons of benefits like managing expectations, diverting attention, and exceeding expectations.

But when done continuously, it can negatively impact customer trust and create mistrust. This can have serious consequences for both the individual salesperson and the company as a whole.

Instead of sandbagging, it’s better to focus on building trust with customers by setting realistic expectations and delivering on promises. This can help build a strong reputation and a loyal customer base – building a foundation for long-term success in sales.

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