Enigma

120: Ask 4 Questions to Get More Sellers

Every once in a while, an auctioneer will ask me how to grow their business. What they’re really asking is, “How do I find more sellers?”

I usually answer this question quickly. “Where do you get your current sellers?” That’s the first of multiple questions I’ll ask, as I try to wrap my head around their situation.

My clients tend to be residual accounts; and it’s fairly easy to discover who hires me and why. Most auctioneers, though, have to be finding new sellers constantly, as few of their sellers are repeat clients.

Asking enough questions and asking the right questions will take a lot of the guesswork out of the prospecting process. Some of these questions you can answer on your own after some personal reflection or staff conversations. Some of these questions, though, will require you to interview your past and current sellers. All of these questions will give you insight into how to most efficiently maintain and even grow your client base.

QUESTION 1: What are the common denominators of my current sellers—especially the ones that drive the most efficient and/or largest-transaction revenue?

The answer could be professional occupations, demographic similarities, or organizational affiliations. Maybe it’s situational realities—financial, relational, or transactional positions your sellers are typically facing.

QUESTION 2: Where would I find more people with the same common denominator?

Sometimes this is a geographic area which you can saturate. Other times, it might be a trade group, a publication audience, or specific website traffic. It might be social events, volunteer organizations, or collector clubs. It could even be referral agents—the people who are consistently recommending your solutions to their connections.

QUESTION 3: Why were those sellers selling?

Typically, not everyone in that prospect group is selling their assets. Something motivates your sellers to move from the kinetic value of ownership to cash in their hands. What is that? There are typically one or two reasons that each seller puts an asset or group of assets on the market; and they vary from seller to seller. If you query enough sellers, though, you can start to see common themes in the triggers, motives, or situations that lead to selling. These trends will tell you what solutions the marketplace is craving. If you’re smart, they will also guide your brand’s value proposition(s).

QUESTION 4: Why did those sellers hire me?

Don’t guess at this. Don’t assume you or your employees know. Ask your previous sellers. Again, listen to reoccurring similarities. These answers, combined with your learned value proposition(s) from the previous question, will give you your brand message. The nature of seller responses will also let you know what kind of supporting content will best convey that message. Examples of these include the following: promise or guarantee, stats and info graphics, testimonials, relational empathy, financial incentive, and creativity.

Armed with this collected data, you will be able to specialize—to concentrate your efforts where you get the most bang for the buck. Specialists typically generate more efficient and predictable income, too. Knowing the answers to these questions will let you spend less money in unproductive media or social initiatives—even if your perceived competition has a big presence in them. You’ll waste less time and energy convincing people to hire you, because you’ll be more likely to speak to the heart of a seller’s concerns or goals. And, more than likely, you’ll notice a higher conversion rate in your seller presentations.

Don’t take it from me. Take it from the people answering these questions.

Taking It Personally

I have never taken a psychology or counseling class. I don’t like confrontation and awkward relational conversations—let alone with people who aren’t related to me. Since moving into leadership positions at my church, though, I’ve been dropped into uncomfortable situations on a regular basis—times when I don’t know what to say and when I don’t know if silence is the best response.

One of the things I’ve learned to do is ask questions.

  • “Help me understand: so, what does that look like?”
  • “What do your conversations with God look like right now?”
  • “What would it look like for you to feel this situation is resolved?”
  • “What is a small first step you can make in that direction?”
  • “What does your [love interest, family member, or mentor] say about this?”
  • “How can we as a [ministry environment] make this easier for you?”

The answers to these questions help me know if I need to refer them to someone with special training or similar experience. If I can remember Scripture that speaks to the situation, the answers help me narrow my personal database of memorized Bible passages to share. In the least, it gives me a better idea what to pray—which is often the only thing I know to do.

I don’t know all the questions to ask, let alone all the answers. Thankfully, I know the One who does.

Stock photo purchased from iStockPhoto.com

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