Missing Elements

136: 5 Things Missing From Most Auction Proposals

I hate taking auctioneer’s misdirected money. I typically don’t up-sell. In fact, my clients will tell you that I often advise against extraneous media. That said, I regularly accept paychecks to build ineffective proposals. It’s true. Sure, they will represent aesthetic upgrades from their old materials; but the final product doesn’t always have my confidence that it will help them secure new sales.

I say that, because many of the proposals I’ve seen in the auction industry wouldn’t work on me, if I were the seller. They are missing a lot of (proprietary) content that I as a vendor cannot include, let alone illustrate. It’s sad, too, because my future income is dependent on those pitches—since that signed auction would mean a campaign full of media for me to design.

So, here’s the content that I rarely see in auction proposals that would give me more hope that we could book the proposed auctions.

Market Analysis

What are the forces in the asset and geographic markets that will affect demand for what is being sold? My REALTOR® could show me how many like-kind properties were in the market at the moment and how many sold from that segment last year. Why can’t auctioneers? Sellers of all types of assets want an idea of how current market conditions will affect estimated sale price.

Comparable Sales

Again, I don’t understand why this is so easy for REALTORS® to demonstrate but so difficult for auctioneers. It’s not just real estate, either. From what I understand from talking to appraisers, some decent homework should be able to provide recent sale prices for similar personal property items—not all the time and for all the items but most of the time for the headline items being sold. If there isn’t a comparable sale, an explanation of why that is the case would be helpful information for the seller.

Property Analysis

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the asset or group of assets? What repair or upgrade work would add more value than its cost? What specific marketing choices & efforts will be made because of the asset’s attributes?

Advertising Analytics

If the reasons for your marketing suggestions are based on anecdotal information, you could be losing the deal to a competitor that tracks their advertising. They know what works best and most efficiently. They know how to market on the lowest possible budget. They can also prove the necessity of larger budgets—because they have data on bidder acquisition costs. They might even have that broken down by asset type and geography. If you have this data, use it. Show it; don’t tell it. If you don’t have this information, start collecting it.

Recommendations from Similar Clients

Auctioneers do like to grab stuffy recommendation letters from some huge name, but I’m still waiting to see testimonials from like-kind-asset sellers. If it were my proposal, I’d have recommendations that pertained to different aspects of the proposal sprinkled into their respective pages as big, magazine-style pull quotes. Or, if possible, I’d have that recommending quote under a picture of the sellers and a “SOLD!” sign. People want to hear from other people who’ve been in their situation.

It’s funny to me how many proposals I’ve read promise something along the lines of “We’ll do our best to sell your asset for the highest sale price,” when the auction company hasn’t done its best to sell their solutions.

Most auction proposals include a lot of content about the auction method—instead of data that proves its superiority. They promise fair market value but don’t illustrate proof of it. I can often find sections on company history, staff biographies, auctioneer designations, and even unsupported claims at market share. Those are for LinkedIn profiles, not seller presentations.

Just like marriage proposals, the most effective auction proposals have a higher percentage of content about the recipient’s attributes than the kneeler’s resumé. The less time we spend talking about us, the better. Our sellers need to know we’re the best option for their situation—not necessarily because of what we’ve accomplished in the past but because of how well our recent experience enables us to map the next few steps into the future. Sellers are looking for confidence that we can do that—trust built from the five things missing in most auction proposals.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com


  • Matt Price

    One of the items that you have there is Market Analysis

    What are the forces in the asset and geographic markets that will affect demand for what is being sold? My REALTOR® could show me how many like-kind properties were in the market at the moment and how many sold from that segment last year.

    There are no solid places to get that information from – even if you did, it would not be a large number of personal property sales pools across the US that you could tap into in order to deliver a marking analysis that would stand out.

    Equipment on the other hand there are blue books and the like available, but in the overall run, you would need to add it in and take it out for certain properties.

  • Charlie

    Ryan –
    Well said – I am glad to have you as a part of our team. I look forward to learning from you –

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