The X-Factor in becoming a great Auctioneer
When it comes to standing out, what sets you apart from the rest?
By Emma Dougherty, NAA Content Developer
What sets you apart from your competitors? Is it knowledge? Your staff? Years of experience, or even the location of your business?
Discovering the answers to those questions will help you frame what your x-factor is. Once you have that, you can use it to determine how to sell yourself to clients. One way to figure out your answer is to focus on an aspect that not every business has and makes you stand out.
Part of that process is identifying the current public perception in your area.
In many cases, the public’s perception of the auction industry currently focuses mostly on the chant itself, rhythm, and eye contact. Since many people may have only been to one auction (or none) during their lifetime, part of your job may be to find what can set you apart from other options and change this narrow vision of the industry.
“Auctions are much more than just selling an item someone knows nothing about. But, how to we communicate that to a public who has never witnessed one?” asks auction professional Chip Kugler.
An Auctioneer is in control of their environment, which not many other professionals can say. They are in constant communication with ringmen and other staff during an auction. In other words, according to Kugler, those and other factors make an auction much more than a regular sale. In fact, he’s adamant there’s a defined difference.
“Auctions are not sales,” he says.
X-Factor: Finding your niche
Find your niche and build on it. “If there’s something that you really like… chances are they have a collector’s club,” says Kugler, a former presenter at NAA Conference and Show. “Join these groups to meet new people and increase your potential clientele. Let everyone know that this is your niche in the market and you are who they should come to.
“As they get to hear you and get to know you, and as their members need to sell their collection, by putting your face in front of them is going to grow your name so that you are the go to person to sell their collection.”
You can market yourself and your services within the group by asking to speak or demonstrate your auction skills at club events. This will put you at the forefront of their mind when it comes time for them to sell.
Also, by joining these groups you can also gain access to emails and addresses of people you know are already interested in the type of item you have. This will help build up an email list for future auctions you may have.
X-Factor: Reaching potential clientele
The number one source of potential new clients is referrals. Referrals are key to making sure that your company is the one selected out of the lists of companies online.
“Ninety percent of people who need auctions, have only been to one auction in their life,” says Kugler. “They don’t know the difference between your company and another company listed on the web.”
Keep in contact with key people, such as attorneys, accountants, and real estate agents. If a real estate agent sells a house, somebody must sell the contents. These types of professionals are a great place to start building your referral list.
Benefit auctions are also a great way to get your name in front of your community. Offer to help with a live auction at events around the community and put your business in the top of people’s minds. Even if you don’t make any money off these auctions, you will gain leads for future business.
“If you’re trying to grow your business in your community, you’ve got to get your name in front of those people who have never been to an auction,” says Kugler. “How do you get your name in front of those people? There are different charities all the time that are having a mini auction or silent auction.
“Offer your expertise at these events and get in front of those hundred or so potential clients.”
Face-to-face contact builds stronger relationships, better business contact, and reminds people that you are still in business. You must spend time with people face to face and make sure to thank them for referrals often.
This will help strengthen your “spheres of influence” and gain more business.
X-Factor: Explaining your business to potential clients
Remember, when you are talking to potential clients, that they don’t know the business like you do. They want to know what you are going to do to make it easier for them.
“We need to back up and slow our speech down to explain where we are coming from, why we need this done, and when we need this done,” says Kugler. “Know that you are the expert. That is why they called you.
“It is important to not only tell but also show clients why they should use you as an Auctioneer.”
This article was an excerpt from a presentation given at the 2015 NAA International Auctioneers Conference and Show. Want even more tips regarding this topic? NAA members can access the full audio of this presentation and many others in the NAA Knowledge Center.