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Who Are You Selling Your Domains To?

It’s Saturday morning, you wake up to see a very welcome email in your inbox, an offer on one of your domain names. I think the first time this happened to me was four years ago and I can still remember what I did. I had this fear that if I didn’t respond right away I could lose the sale, I was more scared than excited and I emailed back right away and accepted their offer. I think the initial offer was $1,000 and I took it without thinking twice. The transaction went through, money hit my account, and I felt good. That was until I did a bit of research to find-out who the buyer was.

The buyer was a Fortune 100 company that had a pretty nice track record of buying names in the $25,000 – $50,000 range. I just sold my domain on the extreme low-end of what the buyer would have paid and it wouldn’t have been very hard to do the research and provide a reasonable counter-offer. At the end of the day your domains are worth the value that you assign to them and if you’re willing to be patient then you just might find the buyer that sees the same value in them that you do.

Frank Schilling did an awesome post this morning that was part of the inspiration for this post. In it he made a really good point:

“Once you have a buyer on the line, you can sell any commodity at a low-dollar clearing price or you can hold out for the boutique value of your name.” (Frank Schilling – Sales Observations)

This is spot on but it took me years to get and hopefully after reading this post a few of you will see the domain sales process a little differently. Yes, you will find far more buyers for your domains as you go down in price, but if you really feel that you have a domain (hopefully more than one but let’s at least start with that) that you think could be incredibly beneficial to someone and in the end could save them millions in marketing a big idea, then wait for that someone.

This is also why it is so important to understand who your buyer is before you even think about responding to an offer or sending out a sales letter if you’re doing outbound sales. To do this I use two tools that I use every day for so many different things, the first one is Domain Tools, the second is Google. You can use Domain Tools to look-up the domain they are emailing from (unless it is a gmail or yahoo mail account) and determine if they own a few domains or a few thousand domains. You can also usually determine their real name which you can plug-into Google to find out more about who they are. Are they the CEO of a large company? Are they running an exciting startup? Or are they just some random guy with an idea that is living month-to-month.

For me personally I like to see my domains go to people that are going to put them to good use to do something great. This also means that for startups I tend to sell much lower than I would to a Fortune 500 company because the value of money is so different to each of them. Sure, I could sell many names for $500 or $1,000 but would the person buying them really be the guy (or gal) with a dream to do something big? When I buy a domain I think big, and I want the buyer to think big too. In a way I think, if you’re patient, you actually get to play the role of a VC in some cases as you really are picking who you think would do the best with your domain. Doing your research can help you fel confident of two things:

  1. You are not selling your name for pennies on the dollar
  2. You are selling your name to someone that will do great things with it

Last month I sold a domain to a startup who really wanted the name but couldn’t afford it. I spoke to the founder on the phone, really believed in what he was doing, so sold the name for a split of cash and equity. Now I own a small piece of the company and he got the domain for a very reasonable price. There are many ways to make it work but it does come down to really understanding who your buyer is. Also, last but not least, always remember that a good domain name will save a company money on marketing costs and over a 2-3 year period this could be thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars. If you took the time to find a great domain and acquire it for a wholesale price, take the time to find the right buyer or let the right buyer find you. Just always know who you are selling your domains to because it could make all the difference in the world.

As always I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to share a story of one of your past sales or comment on anything I’ve said above!

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.

{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Darryl Lopes November 17, 2012, 11:49 am

    I sold the only .co I bought to a start up company in my country South Arrica, they got a good price for the domain. All sides happy. I would like to know how to get a piece of equity from a start up though, if you have the domain they REALLY want, how do you negotiate cash and equity? Do you ask percentage stake, or stock? And how much please advise a few pointers if possible. Thank you!

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