End-Users, The Holy Grail – But How Do You Find Them?

As Domainers I think we might use the term “end-users” more than just about anyone else on the planet. It is the Holy Grail of the industry, selling your domain names to an end-user that sees strong value in your name(s) for their business. While every Domainer wants to sell their domain names to end-users, in the end many give-up and sell at wholesale to another Domainer.

Of course some Domainers have a great track-record selling domains to end-users, Rick Schwartz is the first that comes to my mind. He really takes the time to find the right buyer for his domains and isn’t afraid to wait until he finds the best possible deal. Just look at Candy.com, wouldn’t most of us sell that name for 1 million bucks? Rick waited until he could find the perfect buyer, and sold $3 million dollars plus residuals.

Another great example is the Castello Brothers who have one of the best .COM portfolio’s out there and recently topped the DNJournal Sales list with Driven.com for $225,000. Like Rick, they also are in no rush to sell their names, they are focused on finding the right buyers that can pay what the names are worth. The Castello Brothers also do a great job building-out their domains and creating real living, breathing, category-defining, online brands.

So where’s the disconnect for the new or part-time Domainer? I think the disconnect is in the amount of time and energy it takes to put-together a major deal with an end-user. While it would be great to just email a few of the advertisers on Google and immediately find someone willing to pay top-dollar for your domain this usually isn’t the case.

Now – just to be clear, I am not an expert at selling domains to end-users. Monetization and passive income is where I put my energy. However, as a Domainer I am very interested in how the people who have been doing this full-time for a long time put together these deals.

Okay, now for the subject of my post – how to find end-users. This is more an open question to the Domaining world rather than anything I feel knowledgable enough to speak to. So as a blog reader I’ll ask you to put yourself in one of two categories:

  1. Someone with a proven track-record selling domains to end-users
  2. Someone who hasn’t had much experience selling domains to end-users

For those who have been successful – feel free to share what you think has allowed you to be successful. Feel free to also comment on where you think most people take a wrong turn.

For those who haven’t had much experience selling domains to end-users, tell us all what you’ve tried and the results you’ve had. The idea is simple – we can all learn from each other! So comment and let your voice be heard!

{ 10 comments… add one }

  • James April 4, 2011, 12:38 pm

    Hey Morgan,
    I’ve had a good amount of success selling domains to end users – in fact I’d say 80% of my sales are to end users. My tactics are to search for companies on using http://www.seocentro.com/tools/search-engines/keyword-position.html – which shows the top 40 results for any keyword in Google, Bing and Yahoo.

    I also find companies through LinkedIn and through a worldwide directory.

    Then I individually send out personal emails to each contact, normally stating the price and why the price is what it is.

    I usually get a couple of interested parties, and usually a sale.

    Reply
  • Lawrence April 4, 2011, 6:23 pm

    Great article. I actually just sold my first domain to an end user I reached out to last week. As a technology salesperson by trade, I’m on the phone a lot qualifying business owners, exposing their pain and providing solutions.

    I reached out to 10 business owners I found that had almost the exact name of some of the higher end hotels, and clothing boutiques in NYC. An email with decent sales copy, supporting search stats (a 3 minute camtasia video fleshing the value out on Google) and subtle fear of loss take aways when the value was magnified against how one of those “upper brow” companies would benefit, generated 5 responses within 5 days.

    I closed the deal in just under two weeks without a single phone conversation. The sale was just under 1k. I know this was not the standard, but why the heck not? I paid $22 for it and didn’t do anything with it for almost a year. I remember reading an article you had written a ways back explaining that if you can get a profit from selling a name, even to cover other domains reg fees, it’s smart business domaining practice to sell if no plans are in place.

    So, the take away is get off your duff and take action. I’m not saying it’s easy, just easier than we imagine sometimes. Thinking too much Will paralyze you. The worst that can happen is you learn more and more about what end users are thinking and needing so you can sell more domain names to them. If they don’t buy, you still own the property! Pardon the long response, I think I officially got bit by the bug and I Love it.

    Reply
  • Mike Law April 4, 2011, 9:20 pm

    One of my end user stories..

    A pretty generic two word .com I picked up for $50 that happened to match very closely to a few different businesses in that keyword niche. I started by emailing a few of these companies and got one response of an interested party. After I emailed back a couple times trying to get an offer, my messages were ignored so I moved on. I decided to research deeper into a different company and found the name, phone # and extension of the CEO. I called during a weekday mid morning (Wed or Thurs I believe) and got through. I made a quick and to the point pitch, the woman said they would be interested and her web marketing director would get back to me later in the week. Two or three weeks later I got a call from their marketing director, negotiated the price and closed the low $x,xxx deal.

    A couple lessons I learned from this sale – patience is key! I did not contact them again after the woman said they were interested and would contact me. If a month or two had gone by I may have sent a reminder message but 3 or 15 days to an end user is about the same thing – whether we want to believe it or not, buying domains is not always on the top of the end users priority list. Another lesson is to research around and find the right person to make the sales pitch to. I was lucky to get the CEO on the phone but, in fact she thought I was her 10am conference call that was coming in a few minutes early..lol. However, if I would have just looked up the who-is and shot off an email to that company the sale would not have materialized. Now, I have closed many end user deals strictly from e-mailing, remember sometimes you need to dig around and do some research if you feel the company really may want your domain.

    Reply
  • Mikey O'Connor April 5, 2011, 5:32 am

    Hi Morgan,

    I’ve sold a gaggle of names (ing.com, company.com and haven.com) to end users. Here’s a little list of selling-points that I’ve pulled together that others may find useful when approaching that kind of organization. This is a list I put together for Rick’s first TRAFFIC conference in NYC (2007). Some of you may see your ideas in here — I’m standing on the shoulders of giants here. 🙂

    These are in categories, based on the kind of person you’re talking to in the target company.

    Sales

    Beat competitors to prospects
    Obtain more qualified leads
    Increase closing ratio

    Marketing

    Expand into a new market
    Enhance position in current market
    Consolidate a fragmented market
    Reinforce brand (or “reverse brand”)
    Capture mind-share

    Finance

    Improve revenue and profit
    Reduce or avoid recurring costs
    Customer acquisition
    Branding
    Advertising
    Own an asset that will continue to appreciate

    Operations

    Provide a memorable, unchanging address
    Reach a world-wide audience
    Improve web traffic, search ranking and ad-placement
    Leverage online advertising expenditures

    Trends

    Web audience – up
    Online advertising – up
    Importance of web identity – up
    Domain valuations – up
    One-word name availability – nil

    Opportunities

    Capture a category – broadly or narrowly
    Stand shoulder to shoulder with much larger companies
    Use social media to selectively enhance brand
    “Own a word” in the mind of the prospect – and prime your site

    But before you hit the “selling” button (which is what these are useful for), make sure to do some marketing first. Marketing, in my view, is the job of identifying the prospects who have the biggest and most difficult problem that a domain-name can solve, putting together a compelling case (see above) and lining up the actual names of actual people for the sales-folks to contact. I think for the most part this “marketing” stage is missing for most people, which makes the “sales” job a lot tougher.

    Reply
  • Domain 6 Star Ltd. April 5, 2011, 2:37 pm

    I think that you can not know at all, because all the time looking for a good broker. If you know that – let me know about him

    Reply
  • Adan April 5, 2011, 5:04 pm

    Best bet is to let them find you.

    Reply
  • Ken Greenwood April 6, 2011, 6:12 am

    I’ve sold hundreds of domains over the years and many of them for a decent amount of money… in the $XX,XXX range. Started buying them up in the late 90’s. Domaining has always just been a hobby of mine as my day job provides me with pretty nice income. Here’s my simple approach to finding end users – more than likely, if they are an end user who is committed to their business, they are going to already be operating that business under a domain similar to the one you are trying to sell. I’ve written about this on http://www.gotnom.com and I’ve built an application to assist in finding these similar domains at http://www.zfbot.com. It also helps that I deal with CEO’s and CIO’s on a daily basis and know how to speak to contact them and speak to them on their level. The key is making the party you are pitching the domain name to understand the value in the domain while offering a fair price. Too many domainers believe the domains they hold to be of far greater value than they actually are worth. Do the research properly, contact the appropriate people and you should be able to flip a domain in a few weeks.

    Reply
  • a April 6, 2011, 11:58 am

    Domain Advisors is a newer company that does does the work of finding end users for you. It’s staffed by Tessa Holcomb and Jeff Gabriel (the guy who brokered the sale of sex.com for $13 million).

    For some names it makes a lot of sense to do the legwork of trying to flip it yourself, but if you’ve got a good sized portfolio or for ‘crown jewels’ it might make sense to get in touch with them and see if they can help you find buyers.

    Reply
    • Morgan April 6, 2011, 1:03 pm

      Great advice @A – I am actually partners with Domain Advisors, they do a great job and we refer all our clients to them for brokerage – definitely a top pick in my book!

      Reply
  • DomainsHeat.com April 8, 2011, 4:10 pm

    I use google search results. For example for domain BaliNightClub.com, I would type “Bali Night Club” and also use advanced settings to get 100 results, than I would extract whois info for each result and contact them…

    Another great tool is Switchboard.com, you can find business by name, so for PizaaBaby.com I would type, “Pizza Baby” to get list of companies in USA.

    Reply

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