Sorry: “Sold!” Isn’t Enough For Sellers
Six years ago tomorrow, my wife and I moved into our current home. Since moving here, we’ve witnessed something uncanny or at least new to us. Real estate agents regularly ask us to sell our house. Once or twice, they’ve done it in person on my doorstep. One of my neighbors actually sold his brand new home—that wasn’t on the market—to a stranger who knocked on his front door and asked him to sell it.
A few months ago, I received one of these solicitations by way of a postcard. It didn’t convince me to sell, because my wife hates moving and says we have to live in our house at least a decade. It did intrigue me, though, because I rarely see auction companies pursue sellers so well. The graphic design wasn’t impressive. The photos weren’t groundbreaking. It’s copywriting wasn’t clever, but its message was something I can rarely convince auctioneers to use.
Without that message, I am uncomfortable wasting auctioneer’s money on advertising to sellers. Every winter, a line of auctioneers call or email me about getting more sellers. This winter was no different. The consultation unfortunately doesn’t continue long after I ask them the following questions:
- What makes your auction service uniquely better than a seller’s other options?
- What do they get with you that they won’t get anywhere else?
- What is your typical seller’s pain point?
- How do you solve that problem?
- What supporting evidence do you have to prove that you consistently solve that problem?
No matter what the seller problem is, it typically comes down to one or more of the following:
- They want (or need) money in a hurry.
- They want (or need) more money than what other sale methods might net them.
- They want easier money—fewer negotiation exchanges and/or no contingencies.
Instead of telling sellers we can get them more money, faster money, and/or easier money, we in the auction community tend to push something ambiguous like a transparent process or true market value. Sellers don’t want true market value. They want the most money possible.
Most of the auctioneers I’ve consulted this winter want me to tell potential sellers that they can get properties or estates or equipment sold. The problem is that those sellers don’t doubt auctions sell stuff. They want to know prices realized relative to the market. Like you and me, they’ve seen real estate and personal property sell for pennies on the dollar in auctions; and they’ve seen news stories about art and jewelry that sell for record-breaking figures. Most of the sellers we’re pursuing aren’t in the Sotheby’s/Christie’s asset categories; and they want reliable information to assure them they won’t lose their shirts.
“Sold!” isn’t enough.
“Sold at auction!” isn’t, either.
As an industry and as individual companies, we’re up against objective headlines like the one on this postcard:
SOLD IN ONLY 3 DAYS
$3,100 OVER ASKING PRICE!
Another happy client!
Learn about our “Easy Exit” listing agreement
To be sure, not all real estate markets are like the one in my school district. And this probably isn’t the result of all of Acree Brothers Realty’s listings even here. Every hit isn’t a home run. It doesn’t have to be. Unlike a listing, almost every auction we conduct should result in at least one of the three headlines—more money, faster money, or easier money. All we need to do is consistently tout that. For $35, you can tell sellers about that auction’s more/faster/easier result for a week in your market on Facebook. If you don’t think your potential sellers are part of the 70%+ of U.S. adults with a Facebook account or the 50% of U.S. adults who check Facebook daily, you can mail a postcard showcasing a group of your results to your top prospects every couple months for about a dollar a piece (not counting design).
Successful sales—whether auctions, buyouts, or listings—are your best seller acquisition tool.
If you’re not having more/faster/easier auctions, then you need to chase people who don’t care about how fast a transaction takes, how much they’ll make, or how difficult the process will be. Those folks comprise a niche for another discussion. Everyone else—farmers, retirees, debtors, collectors, consignors, loan officers, mansion owners, middle managers, estate executors, and special commissioners—they’re all looking for more money, faster money, and/or easier money.
Successful advertising happens when a company connects their solution with a consumer’s need, want, or aspiration. If our advertising doesn’t start there, it won’t usually get there. That must be our lead, our focus, our headline. Customers won’t care about our services until we prove we care about their situations. The auctioneers who do that best and most often get to be the ones with the best and most frequent commission checks.
Stock images purchased from iStockPhoto.com