193: You Want More Sellers, But What Do Sellers Want?
Everybody’s looking for more sellers. I know this, because auctioneers constantly ask me to help them get more.
Some of the emails I procrastinate most to answer are the ones in response to the materials those auctioneers send me to assemble into direct mail. I don’t like telling people that sellers don’t care about what they think is important.
Sellers don’t need to know how long you’ve been in business, how many employees or offices you have, or in what trade associations you’re a member. Sellers don’t care that you won a bid calling contest in 2007 or won some advertising awards (they’ve never heard of) in 2012. Sellers rarely care how many sales reps you have or how much combined experience they hold. Outside of institutional sellers, your prospect base doesn’t care in how many states you have licenses.
Sellers want to know you’ll get them the best deal possible.
It’s not enough to tell them you get stuff sold. Few of your prospects would be surprised auctions end in transactions. What they doubt is that sellers get the good end of the deal.
Americans see house flippers buy houses at a bargain on TV. Many hear about companies going bankrupt and banks trying to get what they can. They know that car dealers make money off cars they buy at auction. I’ve even seen an ad claiming that its readers could “Buy at auction prices!” So, “SOLD!” doesn’t mean as much as you think it does.
Sellers want as many of the following as possible.
Bottom line. Will you net them a bigger payday? Can you show comparable sales from other marketing methods or a track record of surpassing assessed value? I’m not talking guarantees—just a pattern of strong prices. You don’t have to offer a buyout, either. The number one obstacle you’ll have to overcome is the fire sale perception of auctions. If you can’t prove that you reliably achieve market value for your assets, (1) don’t use clichés that imply that you do; and (2) emphasize one of the other two selling points.
Auctions are not always or necessarily the fastest way to get money for their assets. In a world with Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and Ebay’s Buy It Now, an auction can seem like too long to wait. In real estate markets like mine, where sellers get multiple offers within 24 hours of listing, it can be hard for sellers to forego the bird in the hand for the two in the bush. If your past sellers go on record about the speed of their closing or if you have statistical evidence of your quick turns, leverage that. Otherwise, emphasize one of the remaining two selling points.
Consumers (including your sellers) are willing to part with money if it means less pain or inconvenience. They probably don’t know that they want or need is an auction. They just want a solution. Short, topical testimonials typically work best, if this is your best selling point. Be careful on the length, since the American adult attention span has weakened now to less than that of a goldfish. No, really. That’s what social scientists have found in clinical studies.
If you talk abut the auction method or “accelerated marketing,” do so only in context of how it generates the kind(s) of money they seek. If you can’t prove that you can provide more money, faster money, and/or easier money, don’t waste your hard-earned dollars on company promotion. Instead, spend your institutional advertising budget to beef up your auctions’ asset advertising to look better than your competition’s campaigns—and let potential sellers make their own assumptions.
If you can prove any or all of the above, sell the heck out of them to people who look just like your past sellers. Don’t shoot one piece into the ether and wait for the Brinks truck. Create a systematic series of digital and/or print touches, and brand them with a consistent look and familiar message. If you come across as empathetic and competent, you’re more likely to grab the sellers everyone wants. That means you’ll get the deals that your competition inside and outside the auction industry won’t.
Stock images purchased from iStockPhoto.com.