Tag : market-analysis

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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

119: There Is No Routine Auction

Hospital Billboards

Do you see any parallel headlines to our auction industry headlines?

Over the course of three days, I happened to drive through West Virginia twice. Both times, I was captivated by a short headline on two hospital billboards on I-64.

“There is no routine cancer.”

Often, hospitals tell you that they’re rated in the top ten in the country for a particular disease center or that they perform [insert number] of a certain procedure per year. Or they wrap some cliché in a font that appeals to AARP members.

But this hospital gets it. They know that a person with cancer doesn’t want to be another notch on an oncologist’s belt. My friends and family who’ve battled cancer definitely didn’t want to be a statistic. On the other end of a biopsy, the patient needs assurance of getting the best medical care possible. They’re looking for signs of two things: expertise and empathy. “There is no routine cancer” communicates the care part of the equation. That message gives the impression that medical professionals will fight to save their lives.

The same desire is true for a large portion of auction sellers—at least those with assets big enough to warrant a proposal or earn a company brochure. They want to know the auction marketer pitching to them will understand their situation, study their asset, and create a custom plan to make the best outcome possible. They want to hear, “There is no routine auction.”

Despite this, auctioneers tend to spend the majority of their pitch on what they tell every seller: “Look at my resumé; I’ve won some accolades and earned some designations. We sell lots of stuff like yours. Auctions are the best.” Most of the company brochures I’ve read express little empathy. Property analysis is usually one of the shortest sections of proposals—if it’s even in there. I’ve seen more market analysis from one meeting with my old REALTOR® than I’ve seen in probably 99% of the seller presentations that I’ve been asked to design.

The good news is that you can be the exception to that rule, and exceptional can give you a competitive advantage.

You can still leverage your experience and accomplishments. They just have to be framed within the context of the seller’s benefit. How does your bid calling competition win benefit them? What did you learn at CAI or CES that you can use for this auction? How do those marketing awards translate into better advertising for the campaign at hand? Your time as a leader in an association gave you what insight that you can implement for the challenge of this sale? How do all those years in the business make you worth that commission number they’re skipping through the proposal to find?

I got this wrong for most of my career. I stacked my plaques and auction folders to impress potential clients. I still do. It’s a hard default to reset.

I’m working toward bringing those into context with a different message: “working with assets and winning for auctioneers all over the country has given me insight that might help you.” Hopefully, I’ve given enough information away in emails & on phone calls, in blog posts & on seminar screens to let people know that I’m trying to bring them on that same learning, growing journey—even when I resort to my stats.

How ‘bout you? How could you bring empathy and customization into your presentations? What content do you need to add or emphasize, cut or edit?

A woman named Janet walked up to me after a Bible study and told me that years ago her first impression of our church was me greeting her and her husband at their car and walking them into the building. She hadn’t expected that at a church of over 3,000 people. Now, she and Randy are in environments that challenge their faith; and it started with a small gesture to make them feel comfortable and welcomed in a nervous moment.

That story and longer ones have been told multiple times about multiple people on our parking team. Some of the stories give me goose bumps. I like to tell and retell them—especially to my team mates. “What we do here matters! Our impact will never be fully known. Keep your eyes open.”

The gradual compilation of those moments makes you aware of other potential moments. The more you put yourself in another’s glasses, the easier it becomes to see out of yours.

Someday, I hope to bring the empathy to my office that I bring to my church’s asphalt.

[footer] Stock image purchased from iStockPhoto.com. Billboard images obtained from Google Images.[/footer]