Valentine’s Day is nearing. That special day when we celebrate love and romance,and even sex and lust.
In honor of this Day of Passion, all month I’ll be writing about love … as it relates to your benefit auction.
Today you learn how to train your silent auction volunteers to flirt.
Silent auction items rarely sell themselves. Some items won’t move without help.
And virtually any item will command a higher dollar bid if it’s given a ‘lil love and attention.
Unfortunately, many / most of the volunteers I see at benefit auctions are ill-suited for direct sales.
Yet we NEED them to sell. So here’s how to do it.
At an auction last fall, a package featuring a dog hydro-massage-bath-something sat at the end of the table with no bids.
It had some other goodies (e.g. toys, a bed), but I surmised that the massage itself was the pricier piece of the package. It seemed that it might be a good fit for an older pet, a dog with sensitive skin, or any pooch needing extra TLC.
I turned to the pleasant volunteer serving as the table monitor. He was standing there doing what many volunteers do: stoically guarding the table.
I suggested that he might want to promote this package. He seemed a bit unsure, so I showed him what I meant.
As guests browsed his area, I started a conversation. “Do you happen to know anyone with an older pet?,” I’d query. “This item is such a deal right now and it’s perfect for an older animal … or maybe a dog that has more sensitive skin, like bulldogs or bull terriers. It’s perfect for any dog that needs a little extra TLC …”
(And what dog owner doesn’t believe their pet deserves some extra TLC?)
The guest would turn their attention to what I was showing. I’d continue to show the item and talk about it, engaging the guest.
I talked to a woman. No luck.
I talked to a man. No luck.
The third time I initiated, it was to a woman who (unbeknownst to me) had recently adopted a rescue dog. She felt her pet deserved special attention.
We were within minutes of closing the silent auction. Had I not been there talking it up, it wouldn’t have sold!
The volunteer was impressed. “You’re good!” he said, “It’s a little flirty.”
Hm. I wouldn’t call it flirting. It’s really just good salesmanship.
But regardless of what you call it, it’s helpful. It saves your guests time. It gives them the highlights of the item so they can make a decision to bid.
So if you use silent auction volunteers to monitor your tables, lease spend some time training them to do this.
Or if you feel uncomfortable training them, ask your auctioneer to do it.
Your auctioneer is a PAID sales professional. Of all the people at your gala, he should (at the least) be able to teach your volunteers a few sales tactics.
You might start by explaining that it’s OK to “interrupt bidders.” For instance, compare it to dining at a well managed restaurant. We want your table monitors to interrupt the guests in the same way that a good waiter interrupts your table to make drink recommendations, show a dessert tray, or check-in to ensure your meal is satisfactory. These interruptions aren’t annoying … they are helpful!
Call it flirting. Call it sales. Call it good customer service.
Whatever it is, you want your table monitors to do it.