What I’ve Learned About Selling Domains To End-Users This Year

I still can’t believe it’s already November, this year has really flown by! As you know I’ve been spending more time on selling domains this year with a focus on end-user sales. I’m excited to say that it has been an incredible learning experience with some nice breakthroughs along the way. My goal has been to sell $3,000 or more in domains each month and I’ve exceeded my goal for three months in a row now. While I still think I’m far from being a domain sale pro, I certainly have learned through my experiences this year…and since this blog is all about sharing experiences, I thought I’d share what I learned with all of you.

First my disclaimer. Nothing in this post should be taken as expert advice. I am not a domain sales expert and I don’t make a full-time living buying and selling domain names. Most of my time still goes-into the development and monetization side of our business and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. We’ve found a repeatable model that works and I’m going to keep charging forward creating passive income machines! It has been awesome to increase our revenue every month with domain sales and like most things, I’ve learned a lot through trial and error.

Ready to dive in? Let’s get started!

  • Don’t just send sales letters, make phone calls! This was probably the biggest lesson I’ve learned this year. While sending sales letters via email is still a core part of my end-user sales strategies the phone has been critical for closing deals. I’ve found that in many cases I can get someone on the phone that wouldn’t respond to my email in a thousand years. When I get someone on the phone I usually get a bit of attitude, people assume I’m trying to sell them a domain for millions of dollars. I’ve had well over 100 conversations this year with end-users and with each one I’ve learned a bit more about how they think and the best way to approach them with a domain deal.
  • Show your potential buyer why this domain will help their business. I’ve probably tried around 20 different sales letters over the course of this year. I pay attention to which ones get responses and which don’t. By far the most effective sales letter are those where I explain exactly how the particular domain can benefit their business. Each pitch is different based on the niche and target audience but the general idea is to show them how an exact-match domain can help businesses rank and brand better. Giving examples, especially from the niche they are in is very helpful and can give them a reference point.
  • Offering domains for sale that already rank well can make all the difference. It’s one thing to talk about how a domain name can help you get on the first page of Google, and it’s another to actually be there. I’ve found the response rate to my sales letters jumps significantly if the domain I’m offering for sale is already ranked. A great example is WestwoodDentists.com, I offered this for sale without a site and got no responses to my sales letter. After getting it ranked on the first page of Google I had two dentist offices fighting for the name – it had a whole new value to these businesses once they saw it on the first page of Google.
  • I love all TLDs, but just about ever sale I make now is a .COM. That’s right, I love so many TLDs for monetization with .US being very high on my list. Unfortunately I’ve found that some of these TLDs that I know and love get absolutely no love from end-users. The response rate to my sales letters is often 0% with any TLD except for .COM even with names that have a higher search volume and CPC. I’ve learned a lot more about this from my phone calls. Many end-users I’ve spoken with feel that if they’re going to spend money on a domain for their business they want the .COM. In about 99% of the calls I’ve had people haven’t even heard of TLDs outside of .COM, .NET, or .ORG so other TLDs can add another layer to the sales process as you have to introduce them to the TLD.
  • Push to get offers, don’t throw out a price. You never know what bid someone might open with and it could be significantly higher than you would have thought. When I send-out sales letters I don’t specify a price and make it clear that I’m looking for offers. I usually get a response saying, “what price are you looking for?” but I continue to push back until they make an offer. I had two recent sales where the names sold for more than twice what I was looking for because I waited for the buyer to put-out their offer first. I think this approach is only valid when approaching end-users and I do still believe that if you want to sell your domains through a listing service fixed-price is the way to go.
  • Be persistent. I’ve had to learn how to get past the gatekeepers and find the right contact at a company. You need to be persistent, call everyone you can and try to start with a phone call rather than an email if you can. I’d much rather send a sales letter after I’ve spoken to someone on the phone since they know me and are expecting my email.
  • Don’t try to sell junk. If your domains suck nobody will want to buy them no matter how great of a salesperson you are. Make sure you have real data you can provide as to why your domain is valuable. Tools like Estibot while not being 100% accurate can really help make your case for the range the price should be in. Couple this with search volume and CPC and you can make a strong case. When you’re selling anything you need to be able to tell people why what your selling is valuable. I’m not saying you can’t sell brandables or domains that Estibot valuates at $10, I’m just saying it can create a challenge when you’re trying to put-together your value proposition.
  • DomainTools is an essential tool. I can’t emphasize enough how useful DomainTools has been in this process. The more you can learn about the person you’re selling to the better your sales pitch can be. If I know that someone owns 10,000 domains and purchased the domain for their business from a major company a few years ago I know they understand the value of domains. If instead I see that the person I’m emailing only owns one domain and they hand-registered it this year then I know I’ll probably have to explain domain value and the industry a bit more. This is just scratching the surface of how I use DomainTools there are a zillion other features that I use all the time. This is probably the single most important tool anyone can use whether you’re selling domains to end-users or buying expired domains.

Okay – there you go. Through hundreds of hours of trial and error this is what I’ve learned so far. I can tell you that it takes more than an hour a week and the most important piece of the puzzle is contacting the right people with the right domain. I’m still learning and my goal for 2012 is to sell over $5,000/month so I need to constantly step-up my game to hit my goals.

As always I want to hear from you! Feel free to share your own experiences and what you’ve learned. Like I said, I’m far from an expert and still have a lot to learn, so let’s share our experiences and learn together!

{ 17 comments… add one }

  • Gene November 1, 2011, 11:24 am

    Thanks for sharing what you’ve learned, Morgan. Very good advice on the whole.

    For whatever it’s worth (because I’m generally not an active seller), I’ve found that sales letters are ineffective; and I could see how making calls to the right decision-makers would be far superior, as a tactic.

    It may be sad to say, but I’ve always gotten the most interest from sitting tight, and doing nothing at all to promote my names. Listing them on GoDaddy’s Premium Service would be my second choice, but auctions would be dead last – or off the list, altogether.

  • RK November 1, 2011, 11:45 am

    When you sending a sales letter to an end-user who has a website, how do you normally approach them: via ‘Contact’ page or an e-mail which is associated with their domain name?

    Thanks for the info!

    • Morgan November 1, 2011, 12:22 pm

      @RK – great question! I always go for the admin contact listed in their WHOIS. In many cases I’ll call the number listed there first and leave a message if I can. That way when I send an email I can mention my message as well. Usually the decision-maker around domains is the domain owner whereas the contact form often goes to technical support.

  • Charles November 1, 2011, 12:20 pm

    most companies would obviously want to have their domain comprised of their name. For example, Advanced Tour Operators may want a advancedtouroperators.com as their domain, and probably they already have it. How do you market to them and eventually sell them a amazingtours.com domain?

    • Morgan November 1, 2011, 12:24 pm

      @Charles – I buy exact-match domains so don’t typically look at brandables like AmazingTours.com or GreatTours.com. I would instead look for something like AfricaTours.com or AfricaHotels.com that match what a user would be searching for. When someone is looking for a tour they typically won’t search for amazing tours or great tours, they’ll look for city+tour or country+tour. I think owning terms like this is more valuable because it’s a good fit for a number of businesses in a niche rather than just one or two.

  • Horoscope November 1, 2011, 1:11 pm

    Nice advices from your experience Morgan!

  • PPC Ian November 1, 2011, 1:18 pm

    Excellent tips, Morgan! I really enjoyed reading this post. I have never sold a domain (I just buy and develop) so it’s really cool to learn from your domain sales experience.

  • Don November 1, 2011, 7:21 pm

    Regarding- Push to get offers, don’t throw out a price
    That is the best advice you could give anyone.

    98% of the time we never give out prices on our insurance names but instead give a potential selling range. Our example or range is 5k to 175k. Not set in stone but I think overall it is a great way to get offers. You lose thousands in the long run by setting prices.


  • Jason Thompson November 1, 2011, 9:12 pm

    Great tips Morgan, I’ve implemented of few of these into my sales approach and they work.

  • Web Hosting November 2, 2011, 12:00 am

    Thank You very much for sharing your experience..

  • Avraham November 2, 2011, 12:06 am

    It is still possible to find great keywords on other TLD’s. For an example I own Playstation-3.me – worthless despite 5 million searches daily. I did sell some backlinks but, seems hard to resell.

    • Morgan November 2, 2011, 8:13 am

      @Avraham – Playstation is a Tradmark that belongs to Sony. I stay far far away from Trademark and Typo squatting, not a path I recommend anyone pursue in this industry.

  • jayjay November 2, 2011, 3:08 am

    Bookmarked will keep this in mind! You’ve got some good pointers here as i heading in the same direction too. End users competing for your domains is definitely the best way to get top dollar. 🙂

  • Organizationer November 2, 2011, 3:39 am

    I have received offers from people with specific their names in the domain (but .co.za TLD).

    I don’t want to name the domain but as an example, john.co.za

    What offer should I accept for that domain? How much john.com compared to john.co.za?

  • Mike Dew November 2, 2011, 5:41 am

    Great Advice,
    Especially the discussion regarding phone calls. When selling I do get response from emails sent if I have reached the right target market, but when you can make contact by phone the sales process can move along much faster.

    Mike Dew

    • Morgan November 2, 2011, 8:12 am

      Thanks for the positive feedback @Mike! So true, picking-up the phone makes all the difference in the world.

  • DomainManagement.net November 3, 2011, 3:25 pm

    Morgan this have been my strategy buy offering sites that are ranking and have had good very good time selling sites in total over 100,000 gbp to seo guys that are in partnerships with business and see the value of what you are offering , have faith in them and offer credit 0% and take the deposit let them take over a site one paage one for a good keyword that has big value
    they know earn 2,500 gbp per week from this site , cost price 17,000 gbp , cost price to me
    cost of domain 700 gbp development costs 2,50000 gbp stands me at £3,200 for nice margin 13,800 for 18 months time nice investment , another persoanalinjury.org cost price £2,500
    for the domain name great buy even if i do say so my self, sold 16 months later as a site on top of page 2 of Google for keyword sale 25,000 , this are now worth lots more if you think about what they get on a personal injury clain 700 gbp not long for them also to see return on there investment everybody happy , good business , clean , gives my capital to expand my development office to develop out my 3,500 keyword heavy domains and we allready have good rankings and these only have attract people to me as they know its good value , keyword heavy domain names are great digital assets that all there website-sites to get to the top of google quicker if you make a good entertaining, good looking interactive website site that interests the reader on the subject matter you climb we have just sold consolidationloans.org.uk £15,000
    which has reach Google page 1 position 2 in the organic listing and that’s a difficult search term
    opps sorry i got carried away i was just so happy to share as Morgan shared his thoughts which entirely echo my own views, which i have held too , while others were skeptic of me and considered me t little bit odd ,and i was kind of blind trying to figure it all out as i cant even make a fringing website well it is fun trying to work it all out, its great fun , and very rewarding
    i have now just created another 10 jobs while things are tough out there and we while probably have 10 more with ever month , to push up the value of portfolio keyword heavy domains that i and you understand but not your average technophobe business guy , but they understand a good opportunity , and the serious potential and could add great value quickly to there business
    and if finance offered then there aim will be that it will pay back within 2-3 months when at top
    i know guys that are doing this now , its cool they are betting the big boys like money supermarket that’s what i love about the net you can take over the big boys 🙂
    great blogg keep it up has been reassurance i have need once 🙂

    Best wishes happy domain investing and developing Steve P


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