The latest designation from the National Auctioneers Association (NAA) is Auction Technology Specialist (ATS). A course written by auctioneers for auctioneers, it offers a comprehensive education for all auctioneers, including those who are self-described as technology-challenged.
The biggest misconception about ATS is that it’s designed for operational staff instead of auctioneers. Unlike the Auction Administrator Certification Program, which is indeed targeted at support staff, the ATS course is intended to teach auctioneers to be competent using modern techniques to build their businesses, tap more potential sellers, gain exposure to more buyers and dissect the jargon used by technology vendors to find out what services they really provide and what those services will really cost.
Packing the wallop of 28 credit hours, the focus is not to teach auctioneers to become geeks. It’s clear that the best use of auctioneers’ time is marketing items and services, not writing lines of code. The focus instead is to help the auctioneers understand the purpose, not necessarily the mechanics, of modern gadgets, marketing avenues and website design theory and techniques.
Like most of the courses offered by the NAA, you must have your associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree or approved life equivalency and be 21 years of age or older. In addition to these common requirements, you must also complete two simple, straightforward and free courses offered by Microsoft.
- The Internet and the World Wide Web
- Digital Lifestyles
For an auctioneer with basic Internet knowledge, these courses take minutes to complete. If you’re an auctioneer who is new to technology, computers, Internet or email, these courses provide a great way to become familiar with the basics on your own time. These courses also give you an idea of the assumptions made by the course of the minimum level of understanding possessed by the students of the class. The live course builds on the materials covered in the two Internet courses.
As for the live class, the chapter list on the NAA ATS page is a little out of date. Here’s the list of the current course chapters in order.
- Types of Auctions and Their Technology Needs
- Digital Photography and Video
- Image Hosting
- Inventory Management
- Lead Generation and Prospecting
- Marketing Your Auctions
- Payment Processing
- Enterprise Integration
- Company Marketing Strategy
- Building an Online Community
The last day of the course is a hands-on exercise that builds on the skills learned during the first three days and demonstrates the listing of items for Internet bidding using multiple platforms as well as posting an item-level listing to the NAA’s state-of-the-art auction calendar.
Finally, after having taken the class, students must conduct an Internet only auction as well as a live auction with Internet bidding available before officially passing the course and gaining the ATS designation.
Here’s the class summary from the NAA website.
The Auction Technology Specialist ( ATS) program will help you understand today’s technology and how to use it to improve your business. ATS consists of two sections. The first section takes place online using the Microsoft eLearning Center. The second section is a live, four-day, classroom experience. To complete the designation, you must complete the four day class, pass the class exam, conduct a live and static auction, and submit the appropriate documentation.
In these scary economic times, many of us will find our businesses evolve. The one thing we cannot afford in this economic downturn is to become lax in our education. Maintaining a pulse on the industry and on technology will let us adjust quickly to these fast-changing times.
If you’re an auctioneer who hasn’t yet done many auctions while providing Internet bidding, you should take ATS. If you’re an auctioneer who doesn’t have a website or who wants to make your website better, you should take ATS. If you’re an auctioneer who is obsessed with auction tech and can’t wait to find out the latest and greatest techniques for improving your auctions, you should take ATS. If you’re an auctioneer looking to build your business using some of the newest social media and guerrilla Internet marketing, you should take ATS. If you’re an auctioneer who is looking to gain a competitive edge on your competition, you should take ATS. If you’re a programmer or the head of technology at your auction firm and are interested in technology and not so much interested in auctions or the auction method, ATS may not be right for you. ATS is for auctioneers.
In the interests of disclosure, I’ve personally been involved with the course for some time, along with several industry leaders in the field of auction tech. I’m quite happy with the way it was developed, the variety of views and materials presented in the coursework and the reception it has received so far from those auctioneers who have taken the course.
The ATS designation, like all the designations from the NAA, tells customers – bidders, buyers and sellers – that you are recognized in the industry for having mastered a skill set. I’m not going to argue the merits of ATS against the other designations offered by the NAA as they’re all valuable. But no matter if you do estate auctions (CES), real estate auctions (AARE), benefit auctions (BAS) or all kinds of auctions, the beauty of ATS is that, regardless of your specialty, it will help you conduct better auctions and be a better auctioneer.
View more information about ATS in Baltimore on November 17 and submit your registration today.