Domaining MBA Monday: Selling Domains To End-Users, Part Two

domaining_mba_mondayWelcome to Domaining MBA Monday and Part Two of my series on selling domains to end-users. If you missed part one please make sure to read it before diving into this post. This post is about two different ways that I find most of my end-user sales take place, either reaching out to end-users directly, or fielding inbound inquiries on my domains. These are two very different beasts so I’ll tackle each one individually starting with inbound inquiries.

Inbound Inquiries
An inbound inquiry takes place when an end-user wants to buy your domain name and contacts you directly typically through the email located in your WHOIS information or on any contact form located on the site itself. Before going-into detail on responding to inbound inquiries I’d like to share the #1 way to increase inbound inquiries.

The #1 way to increase inbound inquiries on a domain name is to put a banner on the site that appears when you visit the domain that indicates it is for sale. Parking platforms like TrafficZ, Internet Traffic, and ParkLogic all make this possible across hundreds or thousands of domains instantly. Just put yourself in the shoes of an end-user who knows nothing about the domain industry. Many people think, when they see a website on a domain (and a parking page looks like a website to a lot of people) that the domain must not be for sale.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had a friend say to me, well I wanted to buy this domain but it was taken so now I’m going for my second choice. When I asked them how they knew it wasn’t for sale the typical answer is, “There was a website on the domain so it looks like it’s already being used.” Remember, we all know what domain parking is but the general public doesn’t. The way to let most people know that a domain is for sale is to make it very visible if anyone visits the domain in a web browser.

So, now you know the #1 way to increase inbound inquiries, now I’ll share the #1 way that Domainers miss out on inbound inquiries. Make sure that your WHOIS information is up-to-date, whether you have a “For Sale” banner or not the WHOIS information is your way of publicly letting people know how to reach you. Both your phone number and email address should be active because some people are more comfortable calling you on the phone.

If you aren’t comfortable giving out your email address or phone number, don’t worry, there are easy ways around this. You can take one of the domains you own and put it under privacy protection, then create an email address at this domain and use it for your WHOIS contact information. That way you can keep your information private while still allowing someone to send you an email. For your phone number you can use a service like Grasshopper that allows for you to use an 800 or 888 number that can forward to your phone.

Now you know the #1 way to increase inbound offers and the #1 way to miss inbound inquiries. I’m sure you want to learn more about negotiating inbound inquiries but this will all be covered in part three next week. Now onto contacting end-users directly.

Contacting End-Users Directly
Contacting anyone directly can be a scary thing to do. The people who are best at doing this are…drumroll please – salespeople! Some people have a gift for gab and are good natural salespeople, others get nervous, don’t know where to start, and lose confidence quickly. A good friend of mine once said, “Salespeople are born not trained” and while I know that may sound a bit harsh I think this is very true.

I worked in sales for eight years and have always been completely comfortable picking up the phone and calling someone out of the blue or walking into a board room full of people I had never met. In fact, not only was I comfortable doing this, I loved doing this and still do. If sales is not your thing or you don’t have the time that it takes to do this yourself, you’ll want to hire a salesperson.

So let’s fast-forward now and assume you either are a salesperson yourself, or you’ve hired a salesperson. Where do you start? I typically recommend looking for people that have a real need for the domain that you have and there’s no easier way to find these people that to use Google.

Perform a search for the keywords in your domain, I’ll give you an example. I one owned the domain name BuyLooseDiamonds(dot)com. I did a search on Google for “Buy Loose Diamonds” and found a handful of companies advertising for this exact term, the ad itself clearly said “Buy Loose Diamonds” so I knew these keywords would be meaningful to them. I contacted all of them and ended-up having two different companies interested in the domain, it was then sold to the highest bidder.

Over the years I have found that I see more success using the phone rather than email. This makes a lot of sense since people get tons of junk mail and an email about a great domain name for sale, honestly is junk mail to most people. When you call someone on the phone the key is to find a decision-maker and talk to them. Unless you can get a decision-maker on the other end you’ll never know whether they would buy your domain or not. I said this in Part One of this series and I stand by it:

If you’re too afraid to pick-up the phone, you might be too afraid to do what it takes to sell domains to end-users.

The key with making phone calls is to make sure you are talking to the right person. This is an art onto itself but you’ll need to put on your research hat and really understand the company you are calling and figuring out who is responsible for what. You can normally find this on the corporate website where you will find the name and descriptions of the executives. Remember, you want decisions makers so if you’re talking to anyone with “Manager” or “Director” in their title, you probably haven’t hit a decision maker.

Managers need approval typically from Directors and Directors typically need approvals from a VP or C-Level position. If you are talking to the CEO, CFO, CMO or VP of Something, then there is a good chance you have reached a decision-maker which means you’re talking to the right person. I’ve seen many people get stuck with a manager that says “I will ask my boss.” Be careful here, you might get stuck in an endless loop, instead talk to their boss if you can, spend your time talking to decision-makers, not people who report to people who report to decision-makers.

Last but not least, don’t go nuts emailing and calling people. If you’re making hundreds of phone calls or sending hundreds of emails you’re not taking the right approach. Instead five a handful of companies that are currently spending good money to advertise for the keywords in your domain. If they are spending $10,000/month advertising (i.e. $120,000/year) then $5,000 – $10,000 for a domain name that exactly matches the term they are targeting might be a great deal for them, and for you.

Most of the end-user deals I do end-up being incredibly positive and often our relationship spans past that one deal. It’s a great feeling to help a company build their brand online and I’ve had cases where customers have taken their ad budget down to zero from over $100,000/year. Companies big and small buy domains every single day, some spend thousands of dollars, some spend millions of dollars, if you have a domain that a company wants but they aren’t actively contacting you, they might not even know the name is for sale, contacting them directly could be all it takes to make your biggest sale yet, but you won’t know until you try.

Final Thoughts
A few closing thoughts to bring this all together. At the end of the day if you want top dollar for your domains waiting for inbound offers is probably the way to go. The leverage will be on your side and you’ll have the best negotiating power. That being said, it all depends on what your time horizon is for each domain in your portfolio. I have some domains that I’m happy to hang-onto for 10+ years until the right buyer comes along, and I have others that I have might shorter time horizons for. Every business is different, you need to do what is best for yours.

Contacting end-users directly might not get you top dollar for your domain but at the same time if you’re getting 2x-3x on your investment that’s nothing to scoff at. Sure, you might have been able to get 20x on your investment if you waited 5 years, but if you can put the money to work now, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out and making it happen.

Last but certainly not least. Be fair. Look at comparable sales and be reasonable. Yes, your domain should save a company a lot of money over time, sometimes millions of dollars, but it might not be a million dollar name. Don’t get greedy, instead look at similar sales, look at what prices similar companies have paid, and make a deal that works well for both sides. I’ll cover this more in Part Three but wanted to make sure this point was at least included in this post.

That’s all for now, stay-tuned next week for Part Three. As always I’d love to hear from you, feel free to comment on anything said in this post or any related topic you’d like to discuss in the comment section below. Good or bad I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

READ PART 3 ->

Morgan

Co-Founder at Fashion Metric
Morgan Linton was born in Berkeley, California but spent nine years traveling the world as an early employee for digital music startup Sonos. In 2007 Morgan founded Linton Investments, a domain name and branding company that has helped some of the most recognized startups in the world acquire their top choice domain name. In 2012 Morgan left his full-time job to co-found Fashion Metric, a next-generation platform aimed at changing the way guys shop for clothes online.

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • RaTHeaD November 19, 2012, 11:47 am

    in the future all domains will point to google.

  • This Week In Domains November 19, 2012, 12:02 pm

    What has been your experience selling GEO domains to end users?

    For example if you want to sell a City+Lawyer.com domain, how would you approach? Any specific tactics that you can share would be great.

    Would you recommend outsourcing the task of finding/calling end users?

  • James November 19, 2012, 2:37 pm

    @ThisWeekInDomains: I’ve had some experience in selling geo domains. In particular real estate and lawyer domains.

    In my experience, they are pretty difficult to shift, and you generally won’t get a high ROI. I’ve had a few $x,xxx sales but mainly mid-low $xxx.

  • Ezequiel November 20, 2012, 11:26 pm

    What about the street address that goes into the whois info? Isn’t that more “private” than a phone number? Are there any services that could act as a proxy the same way grasshopper works for phones?

  • Geo December 29, 2012, 5:21 pm

    You wrote: “five a handful of companies that are currently spending good money to advertise for the keywords in your domain…”

    I assume you meant to write: “find a handful”

    What tools do you use to FIND those ad spending reports by keyword?

  • HowieCrosby April 17, 2013, 1:26 pm

    Great, thank you Morgan, I’m jotting down notes. I do agree, cold calling seem to be more positive and have the likelyhood to get better results and it’s more sociable. However, coming from the UK and owning mainly .coms with mainly US custom, I’m still searching for the best telecom provider for international calls as it’s still early days.

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