Auctioneer’s Chant Finds The Market’s Money

by Don Elliott on February 9, 2012

Whether you have heard the cry of the auctioneer across the fields as you approach a farm auction, heard the more sophisticated ramblings at a charity event, or tried to follow multiple auctioneers at a big auto auction, the familiar auctioneer’s chant is the common thread.

Auctions and auctioneers have been around for thousands of years. The National Auctioneers Association cites evidence of auctions as far back as 500 B.C. Auctions have evolved into one of the most efficient ways to dispose of many kinds of property quickly and efficiently for the highest market value.

The actual auction event happens very quickly. At wholesale dealer-only car auctions, the auctioneer sells each car in less than a minute. Livestock auctions are almost as fast. The call of the auctioneer is one of the keys to success.

Each auctioneer has his or her own style, practiced and refined over time. Basically, there are two parts to the chant that are common to all products and auction styles, the statement and the question. The statement is simply the last bid accepted. “I have $3,500.” The question is the request for the next bid. “Would you bid $4,000?”

From his or her very first auction sale, each auctioneer develops a cadence, or what is sometimes referred to as the song. This song is unique for each auctioneer. They use filler words to make up the cadence, but the question and the answer are consistent features of the auction process.

The secret to the success of any auction is preparation. Just as the auctioneer practices his chant, he also researches his market. In order to successfully present the product to the buyers, the auctioneer has to know the product and what it should be worth to the buyers and sellers as he works with both to complete the sale.

Pre-auction advertising and promotion is designed to bring as many potential buyers as possible into the auction arena. At that point, the fast-talking auctioneer and the melodious chant take over. Clarity is a key component. Buyers need to be able to understand the “ask” and “bid’ amounts to keep the pace of the auction on track. A really good auctioneer will accept bids and move the pace quickly until the highest market price offered is determined. On any given day, with an arena full of potential buyers, the auctioneer will make the market for the item being sold.

Cars, cows, condominiums, or carpets, it doesn’t matter! An experienced auctioneer will find the market. And, typical of every auctioneer’s chant, they all strive to end with a single word—“SOLD!”


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