Getting to Know Your Auctioneer

Getting to know

Whether you're going to a storage auction, estate auction or even a livestock auction, you'll quickly discover that individual auctioneers have very different styles and personalities. The auctioneer guides how the auction goes, and a talented auctioneer is able to manipulate the energy of a crowd to make the bidding go higher. It's a good idea to research your auctioneer before an auction so that you know what to expect, as different styles of auctioning will do better with certain strategies than others.

Many professional auctioneers have webpages where you can learn more about them. You can also research an auctioneer in advance of a sale by finding videos of them at work online or attending several of their auctions without bidding. In a small community, there may only be a few auctioneers to concern yourself with, so this research shouldn't take you too long and will pay off in the long run.

Primarily, auctioneer styles are different methods of working a crowd to get more bids. Some of these are especially prevalent during the opening stage of an auction when bidders may be reluctant and the auctioneer needs to get things rolling. Here are a few styles to be aware of:

  • Speed. Auctioneers with a large amount of stock to sell are likely to speed through an auction without giving much time between bids for people to contemplate their purchase. If you're holding off on bidding to see how high it gets, you might find the auction over before you even place a bid. On the other hand, fast auctioneers sometimes lower their starting bids to entice reluctant bidders, and you can get a good deal if you manage to land on one of these reduced-cost lots. Some auctioneers tend to be less patient with lots all the time, while others only resort to these speedy techniques when there's a lot of stuff to get through at the auction.
  • Starting bid. These auctioneers like to get the ball rolling by tossing out a figure quickly and fishing for higher bids. You'll hear a tell-tale phrase like, “Who'll give me a $10 to get us started” early in the auction with this type of auctioneer. If no one responds to this starting bid, the auctioneer will try lower numbers, but it can be hard to tell that bidding hasn't started yet when he's quickly reeling off figures. This is why it's a good idea to keep an eye on what other bidders are doing so you know for sure if a bid has been placed.
  • Gab. While some auctioneers are all business, others like to loosen up the crowd by telling anecdotes or humorous stories about the object being sold. They might also describe the item in painstaking detail and make encouraging comments when bids are placed, such as “This bidder knows the value of the item.” All of this is designed to loosen up the crowd and convince you to make more bids. It's crucial to learn how to enjoy the gab without buying into it so you don't overbid.

There are other types of strategies that may be employed by various auctioneers. It's most important to remember that the auctioneer's job is to actively sell the items, not just report on bids as they're made. By recognizing the sales strategies used by various auctioneers, you'll be best prepared for the auction and can be sure to get a good deal on the items you buy.

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