Maestro Tip

Maestro's Tip of the Month

Live Auction Sequencing -

When you Sell an Item is as Important as What you Sell

One of the tasks of the charity auctioneer is to assist the client with the proper sequence (order) of what to sell in the Live auction.  If your organization uses a volunteer or part time auctioneer, you may not have the benefit of this critical advice.  The following tips will assist you in placing your items in the right order for sale, and thus give your event a lively and profitable Live auction.  The tips below are covered in even greater detail during one of our Auction Workshops which are held on a nearly monthly basis.

The "When" of selling items in the Live Auction is often as important as the "What" you are selling.  Here are some guidelines to follow when sequencing your Live Auction items for your catalog:/SPAN


  • Start with a tangible item whenever possible (to focus the attention of the audience) and the more "emotional" of an item, the better.  Something for kids is always good (a wagon of toys, a big stuffed animal, an assortment of video games and a player).  A fresh, hot apple pie is a good alternative or an "instant romance package" (roses, champagne, flutes, dinner for two at a romantic place).
  • Place your "premier" item about 50-60% of the way through your list - never save the best for last!  The second high bidder needs to have some good items to bid on after the high bidder of the premier item wins. 
  • Do your "Raise the Paddle" (also called Fund an item or Emotional Appeal) right after you sell the premier item - while your audience is still thinking big numbers.
  • Ramp your values up to the premier item whenever possible, although it is more important to not place similar items back to back.  Avoid back to back dinners or back to back trips, or back to back memorabilia.  Mix the categories of items whenever possible, but also avoid jumping from a low value item to a very high value item - it is hard for the audience to transition from a $500 item bid mentality to a $10,000 item bid mentality.  That is why it is best to ramp up the value whenever possible. 
  • Merchandise sells best early in the Live Auction, experiences (trips, dinners, golf outings, etc.) sell best later on.  Avoid selling tangible items at the end of the auction - that is the "experience zone"./SPAN