2016 Primaries

157: How Auctioneers Can Be Like Presidential Candidates

This presidential election season has been the most annoying and befuddling of the six for which I’ve been eligible to vote. This is the third one with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube; so, it’s more than social media stoking the fire.

The candidates have changed their opinions and platforms over their careers enough that Stephen Colbert could even use one candidate’s footage to debate himself. Others have assembled similar video presentations for other candidates, as well.

For two hundred years, American politicians have told one audience what they wanted to hear and another audience something else. Because all of us voters vote for our interests or our perspective of the interest of others, it makes sense that politicians play the chameleon game.

The problem now is how easily that deceptive pandering is captured and how easy it is to search for those captured moments. You’d think it’d behoove a candidate to be authentic and consistently honest, but politicians know that all Americans think most politicians lie for political expediency. They also know that if they uphold enough of their party’s platform, the zealots will look past their foibles.

Similarly, many auctioneers often play two crowds with different messages. Amazingly, they rarely get caught. At the same time, the industry as a whole scratches their head as to why the profession comes with a bit of a stigma in the marketplace.

Conflicting MessagesOn one hand, we market auctions to buyers as a place to get good deals (especially at absolute auctions). One auction industry blogger recently candidly admitted that he’d wait for an auction instead of buying an asset for a fixed price, if he had the time to chase the potential discount.

On the other hand, we tell sellers that only auctions will achieve the highest market value. I’ve had to copy and paste that into more proposals than I care to count—including proposals for absolute auctions.

“Well, a talented auctioneer working the frenzy of competitive bidding can get a crowd of people, who registered to bid thinking they’re going to get a deal, to pay more than retail for something.”

That’s true. I’ve witnessed that in person, especially with guns, sporting goods, cars, and collectibles.

What happens when there aren’t enough bidders or the right bidders to get that frenzy started, though? I’ve seen that happen, too: assets selling for pennies on the dollar.

Don’t get me wrong. A number of auctioneers consistently do better than the market with their sales. I’d hire them, if I had to unload the type of assets they sell.

That said, you and I both know that a lot of auctions are contracted not for superlative financial gain as much as an expedited end to a headache, a triage for the bleeding, or quick cash to allocate to another opportunity.

We can sell “high risk, high reward” with integrity. We can sell the time value of money with honor. We can sell superlative results with statistical evidence of our prowess.

But let’s stop selling one thing to our sellers and another thing to our buyers.

Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com.


  • Skip Dreibelbis

    Speak for yourself and others but by God’s grace, we are forthright and honest with both sellers and buyers with the services we provide. Some Auctioneers try to wear two hats by posing as an Auctioneer and being a Realtor at the same time. These men and women speak with a forked tongue because they really don’t care or give much thought to the method of selling. They are just like the politicians you describe but worse because just like the realtors, they only care about getting a commission in any and every way possible.
    We believe in the auction method and it is the only method we use to sell because it it is the best method to sell.
    Nice try to spin with the political climate but please only speak to yourself and don’t bear false witness about those of us who are “True Blue” to both sellers and buyers.
    I personally think there is a better view of the political arena as well and shared that on my Facebook page. The principles of liberty, free and fair markets and limited small government are espoused more by the Libertarian party than either of the others and would in my opinion if implemented make a much better country than what these two parties have wrought in the land. Check and see for yourself and embrace and start championing liberty – https://www.lp.org/platform
    My name is Skip Dreibelbis and I approve this message.

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