Not all auction campaigns go well. My first four or five as an agent where absolutely horrible. No bidders or only a few bidders, a couple of confused buyers, add in some frustrated sellers and a disappointed auctioneer or two & BOOM – the sweet smell of failure!
The Key to Auction Success.
Now while I would have loved for those first few campaigns to have gone perfectly, they certainly taught me a lot. It would have been easy to give up on auction and simply revert back to the much easier path of least resistance of selling via a priced campaign but that didn’t happen. Instead I set about researching into the best ways to be an auction agent. I spoke to successful auctioneers, successful auction agents and host of real estate trainers until I worked out what would work and why. I even flew to Melbourne and Sydney to study why auction success was higher in those two cities than anywhere else in the country at the time.
The result of my quest to find a better way to be a successful auction agent is as follows:
- Your open home and private inspection experience should be second to none – the best – and leave nothing to chance;
- Engaging with all buyers, regularly and early, is the only path to success. They must be on-side and you must continue to engage with them throughout the entire campaign; &
- You need to discuss every contingency early with your sellers and by introducing the auctioneer at week one and regularly throughout the campaign only serves to build trust and confidence in the process which almost invariably leads to a rewarding result.
Now I am certain that you hold great open homes and private inspections but just how good are they?
What information do you have available and how is that information shared? What questions are you asking and being asked? Do you have your answers prepared? How are you directing those inspecting the property through it? Are you engaging with your buyers and helping them with their needs? What does your inspection follow up plan look like and do you actually do it?
Crafting amazing buyer experiences isn’t easy and running efficient yet effective open homes and private inspections can be challenging. The details count but put too much emphasis on the wrong details and you’ll be left with a nice-looking inspection experience but a hollow one that leaves your buyers dissatisfied and potentially frustrated. Instead focus on:
- Introducing yourself and the property in a memorable yet appropriate way;
- Give out brochures first and then ask for information – remember you’re not there to play security guard or bouncer – be inviting (smile) and be approachable, stand in an appropriate place that is welcoming and not intimidating;
- Offer to be of help and make sure that you can help by knowing a lot, A LOT, about the home, the neighbourhood and anything else that might be relevant;
- Move around and talk. Seek to understand what they are looking for and how you can help. Ask lots of relevant questions and don’t make assumptions;
- Have good brochures – professionally printed with good information. Avoid being meh. Avoid being generic. Go one step further;
- Have on display, and make available, as much information as you can. However, make sure that you display the proposed contract, terms of the auction, conditions of sale, any relevant buyer inspection reports (building & pest), rental appraisals, local planning information, licensee and auctioneer details and anything else required under the legislation; and
- If you are going to have chocolates, lollypops or similar also have some water!
Engaging with your buyers during an auction campaign starts before it hits the market and doesn’t finish until the home has settled. There is a lot of contact required and if you aren’t in to putting in the work, then perhaps being a successful auction agent isn’t for you. Some tried and tested processes that will increase your buyer engagement:
- Perform a buyer match and call all of those matched buyers prior to launch. Invite them along to a special preview, VIP showing or similar;
- Explain to them what’s at stake and share an adequate amount of information and consistently check to see if they need your assistance. Ask lots of questions, listen intently and be sure that you are helping them.
- Download my buyer action plan – it outlines a comprehensive 100 plus touch-point plan for making sure you don’t miss any opportunities;
- Learn how to make good follow up calls and how to leave good voice mails. Sorry, simply sending out text message after text message isn’t going to work here.
- Set up your calls by letting your buyers know that you will want to talk to them in the coming days;
- Communication is also about frequency, so keep it consistent;
- Know what you are talking about. Study the local market – recent sales and what’s for sale – and prepare your answers to what you know will be commonly asked questions;
- Have any supporting evidence available and give it out, freely, don’t wait too long to be asked for it – offer it!
- Focus on getting the buyers back for a second inspection as opposed to getting them to make an offer. Once they have seen it twice, then it’s time to work on that side of things;
- If they aren’t keen to inspect it again ask for clarity around what’s not right about house, isolate any issues that you might think can be overcome and confirm that they have no further interest. Check on their opinion of value relative to the market at present and be helpful with anything that could lead them to changing their minds and coming back through for a second look;
- Give them space to consider their options – a day or two, an hour or two – the answer to how much space or time can only be determined by you and them; and
- Don’t be overtly pushy, instead be helpful – no one likes to be sold to but we all like to buy!
You’d be surprised how many times I’ve arrived at an auction (20-30 minutes prior to starting) and the salesperson doesn’t know what is most likely going to happen. Their strategy throughout the campaign has largely been one of hope as opposed to thorough process. Are there any bidders? Don’t know / not sure. What is the reserve? Don’t know / haven’t seen it. Who is your keenest / strongest buyer? Don’t know / not sure. Who is that buyer that just registered to bid? Don’t know / don’t think I’ve met them before. What do you think the opening bid should be? Haven’t a clue / can’t decide …urghhhh….
As sales professionals in any industry you must equip yourself with as much information as possible. Purposefully seek to better understand your situation. In real estate that means knowing the genuine circumstance of your sellers and making sure that you are positioning them for the best outcome possible.
A few years ago, I took the chance to visit with some agencies and agent in Melbourne and Sydney to see if I could understand why they had such consistently high levels of auction success. As it would turn out the common denominator was contact between the salespeople, the auctioneer and the sellers. Each one of the auctioneers met with the seller’s at least three times – once prior to the campaign launch, once after the first weekend on the market and once again at the start of the last week prior to the auction. I have since suggested this to many clients and surprisingly only a handful have taken up the suggestion. But where they have, the success rates of those agents and those campaigns is almost twice those who don’t believe in the same amount of contact.
Anecdotal evidence, perhaps. Interesting that it could be something so simple as more frequent contact that could stack the deck in your favour and I would strongly encourage you to consider upping the ante for your next campaign.
In the meantime, I suggest you at least do the following:
- Weekly face to face meetings (via internet if you must, in person is preferred);
- Weekly reporting including a complete summary and breakdown of digital traffic, organic traffic and valid inspection comments and price range feedback;
- 2 x auctioneer and seller face to face meetings during the campaign – one after the first weekend and one at the start of the last week;
- Consider all contingencies and be prepared to discuss them – what’s the seller’s back-up plan if the market isn’t comfortable with their price goals? and
- Daily communication between you and your seller’s – ideally a phone call with a quick update, however you may need to swap between calls, texts and emails as appropriate to their schedule and yours.
There are lots of ratios that apply to measuring the potential and inevitable success of any real estate marketing campaign. They differ based on geographic location but tend to follow a trend, nonetheless. If you would like to understand your numbers, I am only too happy to help – simply reach out and give me a call, drop me an email or a text/message. Furthermore, if you are genuinely wanting to lift your game when it comes to auction, I offer auction skills training on a regular basis and am prepared to come out to meet with you, and your team, in your office/domain if you’d like. Again, just reach out or click on the button below!
Chief Trouble Maker, CEO & Founder
Ever since I was old enough to talk I have been selling things and over the last twenty-five years I’ve invested a lot of time into researching, developing and putting into practice ideas and strategies for stronger sales performance.
Understanding the technical aspects and evolving the practical side of sales is my why. I love it. I love learning more about selling and I love helping others acquire and develop strong sales skills so that they go about improving themselves and having remarkable businesses.
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