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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Auctioneers: Some will. Some won’t. So what. Who’s next?

I had only been an auctioneer for maybe 2 years. I worked for another auctioneer (Jack) and had not contracted any of my own auctions yet.

Jack kept me busy. We (well, “He”) had maybe 60-70 auctions per year — almost every weekend and then other days as well.

During my time working for Jack, I learned a lot. I learned all about names of glassware, pottery, furniture … I learned how to interact with crowds … how to improve my bid calling … and I learned to keep learning and trying.

Notably, Jack had for years tried to get a particular probate attorney to give him business. Jack visited his office, sent his office candy, cards, and other gifts, mailed him letters, postcards, left him messages … to no avail.

Meanwhile, I had just attended a business seminar where the speaker told me of a mindset known as “SWSWSWWN” — “Some will. Some won’t. So what. Who’s next.”

This made perfect sense to me … “Tell people what you can do for them, some will hire you, some won’t. Just take what comes your way, and move on.”

After returning from the seminar, I couldn’t wait to talk to Jack — stop trying to get that particular probate attorney’s business — because some will, some won’t …

Soon after, Jack and I were having breakfast at Bob Evans (as usual) where I told him of this revolutionary saying. Jack listened intently, as he smiled and nodded.

Once I was done explaining how he should stop trying to court this particular probate attorney, and that there were other probate attorneys out there, and following this rule would help our business … Jack interrupted me.“Mike, want to guess who I was talking with before we met for breakfast? That probate attorney you’re telling me to forget about. We’re meeting him at a house he’s saying is full of good stuff …”

“Really, that’s great” I replied. Jack looked away from his breakfast, and tilted his head.“Maybe a better saying would be, ‘Some will, some won’t … keep trying, they might?'”

“Well, you kept trying, and it finally worked out.” I said, as I eased back in my chair. I wondered — is this new-found philosophy all it was cracked up to be?

As I sit here some 30 years later, I find all kinds of references to the “SWSWSWWN” (and SWSWSWN) philosophy all over the Internet. However, does this philosophy tend to assume an imbalance of supply and demand?

In other words if there are, for example, 1,000’s of other probate attorneys, then maybe “so what, who’s next,” but if there’s only a few, maybe persistence is the better philosophy?

Actually, this phrase and/or mindset seems rather cavalier. “So what?” In other words, if someone turns you down, just move on? Don’t try again? Sounds more like, “Who cares?”

I found a somewhat well-known quote from Thomas Edison:

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.

It doesn’t sound like Edison said, “Well, lets see … that didn’t work (in an effort to make a commercially viable light bulb) so I give up.” Rather, it sounds like he said, “That didn’t work, let’s try one more time.” as he also worked on other inventions concurrently.

Further, let’s look at the very first 4 words here: “Some will. Some won’t.” As an example, if prospective clients are 90% of the time saying, “I won’t” and only 10% of the time saying, “I will,” then maybe that auctioneer needs to reevaluate his or her approach — far from a “So what …” attitude?

Lastly, what does it say about an auctioneer with such an attitude? For instance, a bidder is bidding and then indicates he’s done. “So what, who’s next?” Not hardly … as any good auctioneer would (at minimum) look his way again to see if he changed his mind, and likely try to encourage him to bid again through words, ringwork or both.

I’m not convinced the SWSWSWWN philosophy is a prudent mindset for an auctioneer; but I suppose some will agree and some won’t …

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.

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