On The Job: Charity Auctioneer Charity auctioneer Scott Robertson dishes what it’s like to raise million in a day:
AC Shilton Charity auctioneer Scott Robertson Take your top sales record—the one from that day you could do no wrong—and prepare to have it put to shame. Scott Robertson could probably beat your best sales day in just one hour. That’s because Robertson is an auctioneer and, to be fair, he’s one of the best in the business. On average, he closes 20 deals an hour (that’s one every three minutes). Specializing in charity auctions, he’s famous in Southwest Florida for effortlessly wrangling the contents of wallets from the depths of deep pockets.
What led you to become an auctioneer?
I grew up on a farm in Kentucky, we sold our tobacco and cows at auction, and auctions were social events that everyone came to. I remember I bought my first item at an auction, a carom board, when I was 7. Ever since I was a child, the role of the auctioneer always fascinated me. One day I saw an ad for the Florida Auctioneer Academy in the Yellow Pages and I immediately enrolled; I’ve been an auctioneer ever since.
What does it take to be good at your job?
Just because you show up for class doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to be an auctioneer. With bid calling, you can either do it or you can’t. But it’s more than just that. My great strength is audience analysis. I can read a crowd, I know when to push and when to pull and when to try and get to the next level.
So, would you define yourself as a salesperson?
Absolutely. I’ve always worked in sales—my first job as a kid was selling papers. While other kids were learning to count to 100, I was making change for a dollar. But it’s also more than just straight selling; as an auctioneer you’re part salesman, part performer and part magician.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever sold?
That’s a tough question … probably a stuffed zebra that came with a stuffed rattlesnake. It was pretty obvious to the crowd that I was creeped out by the rattlesnake.
What tip would you give someone putting on a charity auction for the first time?
I do a lot of consulting before the auction happens; that’s really where anyone who hires me gets real value for my services. One thing I tell everyone I work with is to put together auction packages. If you have a dinner donated, work to put it together with wine pairings, limo service and hosted in a donated home. Make the whole package an event. Ultimately, that package will go for more money than the individual items would have.