Sales Decision Sandbagging

Should You Sandbag Sales at the End of the Year?

Posted on December 12, 2018


There’s two weeks left in 2018 and you have a decision to make: Do you sandbag sales to get off to a better start in 2019 or do you slam in every order you can to help make your company’s forecast?

This question is asked every December to sales reps. Your manager typically sends out an email expressing that the company needs your help to make the company’s overall number. In reality, the decision isn’t as easy as doing what’s best for the company. The days of loyalty in many sales organizations is gone.

Any sales rep with experience realizes they need to take a balanced and strategic approach of what’s right for them and what’s right for the company as many sales organizations have taken a “what have you done for me lately” attitude.

What’s best needs to be thought through carefully as there are several variables to consider.

For one, how far are you from your yearly sales plan? If you are close and there is a substantial bonus attached to hitting that number, then the answer should be clear. It makes sense for you to push orders so you can achieve plan.

For someone who is far over their sales plan, what is the over-achievement commission for each dollar over quota? If the over-achievement payout percentage is substantial, then it makes sense to get as much money as you can. Just realize the first quarter of the following year could get off to a rough start.

If you are close to your number, but there is little financial incentive to make your yearly number or receive over-achievement commission, it may make sense to hold off on submitting order that could help you get off to a better start in 2019.

How about those who are far away and have no chance to make their plan? Hold the orders. You'll be happier when you get off to a positive start and out of the hole you've been in all year.

Why hold orders until next year?

Sales is a what have you done for me lately position, maybe now more than it ever has. The expected growth rate for many medical device and pharmaceutical companies is unsustainable.

Very rarely do you see higher than 85% of field sales reps make their yearly numbers these days. For the ones who do not make their numbers, they are immediately looked at as falling behind and will so until they start hitting their monthly and quarterly goals.

If you hold orders because it will not dramatically benefit you financially, you are looking out for yourself. And there's nothing wrong with that.

And let’s face it, if you hold off on orders and get off to a great start in 2019, will your manager be upset if you start out the year at or above plan? Doubtfully. Their memory will be very short in that situation.

More than ever before, sales reps need to look out for themselves by taking a strategic approach of what’s best for them and what is best for their career.

Unless you are far over plan or have a significant bonus that is attainable then sandbagging makes the most sense. Getting off to a good start the following year will give you some breathing room and make your manager happy, regardless if they will let you know it does.