158: 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.
On 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.