Sandbagging and sales forecasting don’t mix

Just like oil and water, sales forecasting and sandbagging don’t mix!

Mark Twain once said that there are “three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.” Little did he know how apropos this statement would be when it comes to sales forecasting, and the process of sandbagging (in general terms, you “sandbag” when you hold back a strength only to surprise your adversary with it later on).

So why do so many sales professionals, and sales leaders, like to sandbag the numbers? Maybe it’s because new business reps want to surprise leadership with a massively big week. Or maybe it’s because managers want to fire up the team – “we need $200k this week” when the real number is only $175k.

In both cases, sandbagging directly affects your personal brand. What does it tell your manager about your values when you deliberately hold back numbers for another week? And what do your subordinates think about you when you artificially inflate sales figures? Neither bodes well in my opinion.

Instead, why not just report what the real figures are? And be consistent in this approach? I’d bet that weekly meetings and forecasting schedules are met with excitement, rather than chagrin.

For new reps only
Do us all a favor, and report the real numbers. A zero isn’t the end of the world, so long as you can back it up with your plans and processes to see more clients, and close more business.

What’s your take? Do you sandbag sales? Are you misleading your sales force with unreal expectations, just to “hit” the real number?

Mark Twain quote from Wikipedia.

Brian Farrell is a coach, helping clients achieve their personal and professional goals. He's also the creator of the "QA2 Method". For more about Brian, visit