Tim Keller, a 28-year auction veteran, focuses on what it takes to be
successful in the world of estate auctioning and has a few reminders on
the importance of patience when handling delicate client situations.
“Grieving people need someone to listen to them and help provide the
care, encouragement, and support they require to help re-establish their
lives,” said Keller, CAI, AMM, CES, of Keller Auctioneers, in
Estate auction professionals are expected to wear many different hats
and perform varying roles during the lengthy process it takes to put on
the actual auction. This may include everything from counselor,
mediator, and even mover. So, it is not surprising that trust is a vital
key in the client-Auctioneer relationship.
Establishing trust with multiple types of personalities can be rather
difficult, however, and Keller believes in the importance of reading the
client’s personality, their comfort and emotional levels, and their
social ques to better understand how to effectively assist them, or when
to back away.
“You need to be able to read your client,” Keller said. “You will have a
better direction on how to set up the auction, complete it
successfully, and have [the client] go through the experience with a
more relaxed and trusting approach.”
Reading your client isn’t just about reading the individual. In fact,
reading into the relationships he or she has and identifying those key
individuals who surround your client can carry just as much impact (or
more) on whether you ultimately conduct a successful auction event.
How so? While it important for an Auctioneer to try to relate to their
clients personally and build trust there, those other individuals need
to trust you as well. Their trusting you will allow for the client and
their group to make sound business decisions (including, perhaps,
following your advice) during emotional times.
Let’s look at some of those outside areas where trust in you will be important.
Decision Maker vs. Influencer
Ultimately, the person who has the ability to make the legal decisions
is key, but it can be just as beneficial to assist the person who
influences them. Educating, instructing, and guiding the influencers
can, in some instances, help make an auction run smoother.
Real property vs. personal property
If a person inquires about one of these, why not determine if the other
is included or also available? Many times an executer isn’t
knowledgeable enough about auctions to know that most of it can be
included. Also find out if a formal appraisal is required or if the
client only needs to find a general value for the property.
Special types of property, collections, fine art, or guns
Are there any special types of property that require a specialist? Don’t
be afraid to use the people you know, and make sure you’re focusing on
the right market for specific items. Know your strengths and weaknesses
when auctioning property.
Other non-auction competitors will start to appear
There are people who quickly move in on an estate in hopes to purchase
the real estate or other highly valuable items. Auctioneers have the
best interest of the estate in mind and will guide the executors through
what should be kept, what should be thrown out, and will protect the
sale from competitors.
Make sure the clients and the executors are comfortable with what is
included in the estate auction, as it is possible for them to place
emotional value on items. Make sure you keep your emotions unbiased on
personal items and even suggest the more emotionally valuable items be
kept back and out of the sale. This will also build trust between the
Auctioneer and client/executor. Also, perhaps suggest donating items
that can be used and won’t necessarily bring in much profit or have
little emotional value.
Attorneys are busy, and most are unknowledgeable about the protocols
involved with auctions. Make sure you give requests and lists to the
attorneys in writing to help them complete their files correctly. Keep
everybody informed. Give them reasons to want to work with you. Build a
relationship with them.
“The people that you do business with is because of your relationships,” Keller said.
This article was an excerpt from a presentation given at the 2017 NAA
International Auctioneers Conference and Show. Want even more tips on
this topic? Full audio of the presentation is available in the NAA Knowledge Center