Why The Auctioneer May Be The Ultimate Salesperson

A few years ago I attended an auction with a wide range of goods on sale: art; signed sporting memorabilia; NASA astronaut items; rare whisky; laptops… the list went on.

And I ended up spending way more than I had planned!

Was I a naïve novice? Would I have spent the same on a different day, with different items on offer? Or was I the ‘victim’ of great sales technique?

So many aspects of what makes a successful auction can be attributed to the skill of the person at the helm: the auctioneer.

And upon reflection, I noticed that the auctioneer deployed many classic sales skills.

But what makes them so good at what they do, and why is that comparable to a traditional sales person? Let me highlight some of their skills below:

  • They know their audience – having engaged with them before the auction starts, from the podium they can then read the room in front of them and interact at the required level
  • They can dynamically adjust their sales strategy in the moment – they respond to rapid changes based upon the bidders in front of them: does a slow-moving item need to be more enthusiastically promoted and helped along? Can they simply leverage the existing energy of a bidding war and use it to maximise the potential price?
  • They quickly, clearly and concisely present the value of the goods on offer – they have to, there is no time to go through a powerpoint of the item’s spec
  • They know when to stop – they don’t want to annoy their audience by ‘flogging a dead horse’ (excuse the pun): they need to keep them on board for the next sales opportunity and not lose them completely
  • They know all about the items they’re selling – knowledge and interest in every item conveys trust to the bidders, which is crucial
  • They project charisma – most people are happier buying from people they like, and most auctioneers can create that feeling with complete strangers
  • They multitask – they have to manage their colleagues who are speaking with bidders on the phone, online, and bidders in the room: all at the same time!
  • They create demand – at the auction I attended, the auctioneer made me want to buy every item for fear of missing out!
  • They’re innovative – like any other competitive industry, how do you attract clients to use your services and stand out? One Australian auctioneer I know wears a kilt!

From your own experience or from the post above, how many of the 10 classic sales skills below, that the Institute of Sales Management recommend mastering, can you identify an auctioneer as having?

  • Listening
  • Communication
  • Rapport building
  • Great memory
  • Art of persuasion
  • Collaboration
  • Adaptability
  • Resilience
  • Objection handling
  • Public speaking

In my opinion they easily capture all 10.

So is there something sales teams can learn from watching an auctioneer at work? I’d say so.

It can be difficult to find an opportunity to watch and learn from a seasoned sales person in action, but in a lot of other professions this ‘shadowing’ aspect of training is critical – lawyers, doctors, teachers, police, IT, nurses etc.

Try and visit an auction near you, and pick up on the various skills in action. Maybe even speak to the auctioneer for any tips they can pass on.

If that’s not possible, contact us at Allan Panthera and take our CHALLANGE™ on how we can support your sales team to reach their full potential.

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