As high bidder on this mug that was sold at a live auction during our Auctioneers Association of Maryland annual Winter Conference, I was ecstatic. Regular auction goers can attest to the elation experienced when the auctioneer says SOLD and the item is handed to you. The caption on the mug resonated with me because of its humorous twist on words, “Auctioneer, because badass multi-tasking miracle worker isn’t an official job title.”

What is really going on with those fast-talking auctioneers? Did you know that the actual bid calling is only 5% of our job? Auctioneers have numerous behind-the-scenes duties for every auction: sales acquisitions, pictures, detailed descriptions, ad development and marketing, research, yielding calls, sale day set up, and much more. . . countless hours before, during, and after an auction.

Does the auctioneer make it look easy, just calling numbers?

By live auction time, the multi-tasking is on steroids. An auctioneer is not just calling out numbers. There are so many things racing through the mind of an auctioneer in action while maintaining 100% focus. The auctioneer is:

  • considering starting price and bid increments which are based on each item’s interest and value,
  • reading bidder body language to see who will bid next or when someone is done bidding or to determine if a person is just scratching an itch or waving to someone,
  • engaging the crowd to keep attendees entertained and keeping an eye out for bidder confusion to clarify as needed,
  • thinking of the next item to be sold and making sure the assistant is in line, ready to hold it up after the current item is sold,
  • commanding the crowd to ensure that the auctioneer is in charge and the crowd is not controlling the sale, and
  • coming up with additional catching statements to get more bids as the bidding is slowing down.

This is not inclusive. Many unexpected situations pop up, and the auctioneer must adjust on the fly.

So, if the auctioneer makes it look easy by looking confident, poised, and in control, you can better appreciate the skillset it takes in this unique profession.