An experienced Auctioneer probably knows a thing or two about his or her audience at a live auction.
He knows when Joe Bidder will start competing for an item, and he knows when he will stop. He can sense Joe’s emotions by the tone in his voice, the way he holds his bid card or by the smirk that sometimes appears on his face.
Further, the Auctioneer is likely able to get a feel for her entire audience, of let’s say 200 people, before and during an auction. It could be a group of fierce business competitors ready to do battle, or, it could simply be a group of retirees there mostly for entertainment.
“When you have them in front of you, it’s very easy for you to be able to read somebody,” says Gerard Trimboli of American Auctions Liquidations & Appraisals Inc., Commack, N.Y. “There’s a lot you can tell in person.”
Now, take those 200 bidders and place half or even all of them in front of a computer. They’re competing in a live auction with simulcast online bidding or in an online-only auction.
In an online-bidding environment, the Auctioneer has little knowledge of his or her customer base, and what’s more, a limited ability to gauge the popularity of certain items.
It’s probably fair to say online auctions bring with them different anxieties than live events, especially for Auctioneers new to the technology. But as many National Auctioneers Association members point out, there are ways to enter the minds of, or connect with, online bidders.
Some of these methods can pay off in big ways.
Earl Musick , CAI, of United Country — Musick & Sons Auctioneers & Appraisers, Eagle, Idaho, was pretty nervous when he started using online auction technology from Auction Flex about a year ago.
“Our first couple of Internet auctions, we were scared to death because the last hour that the stuff was on the Internet, it was about a third of what we thought it was worth,” he says.
It took Musick, who has been an Auctioneer for 12 years, and his colleagues six to eight weeks before they became comfortable with placing auctions online.
“Now we know that people will bid a little bit during the course of the week, but they still hold back,” he says. “They’re still wanting to get it as cheap as possible.”
Getting the most out of online bidders seems to be all about timing, and NAA Auctioneers use several methods to ensure their auctions are as efficient as possible.