The most successful domainers focus 90% of their mental energies on purchases and 10% on sales, for as one wise investor wrote, “The best sales pitch in the world still can’t unload a turd.” If you’re unsure of what constitutes a liquid or enduser-type domain, start by checking out our sample liquid lists or DnJournal’s history of reported sales. This post merely explains, proverbially speaking, how to slip alluring packaging around a gold or silver nugget.
Roughly every other end-user you pitch to will Google your name to ensure you aren’t a sleazeball. Therefore, if you don’t own a business website, you should at minimum create a business profile on LinkedIn describing your work experience, strengths, and accomplishments. Google will index your LinkedIn profile under your name within two weeks. A LinkedIn profile will convey an especially positive impression if you’ve graduated from a prestigious university or played a skilled role within a prominent corporation. You could create this business profile in as little as 10 minutes.
Next, park your domains at a traffic-sampling service like Sedo, setting fixed asking prices roughly 20-30% higher than you intend to specify in your e-mail pitches. Be sure to use Sedo’s optimizer to ensure your domains show ads which strike a good balance between (1) Whatever site the domain housed previously (if formerly developed; check archive.org), and (2) The highest PPC (pay-per-click) keywords describing your domain’s niche. Allow your domains to absorb traffic while you await Google’s indexing of your business profile. Once several weeks have elapsed, you could capitalize on your traffic/PPC figures as bargaining chips in pitching in many of your higher-value names. If you find your domains earn more than $1000 per month in Sedo parking, you’ll earn the privilege of upgrading to SedoPro membership, allowing you to a collect a larger percentage of PPC revenue than under Sedo’s standard plan.
Perhaps most importantly, you should also ensure your whois information exudes professionalism and experience:
- Key in an e-mail address assigned to you by a known University, nonprofit, or place of work. If you’re not part of a for-profit or non-profit group, we advise you create a polished website showcasing your domain portfolio (such as that at DataCube.com) and provide a domain buying/selling FAQ section (as one could find at TextlaVentures.com), then using firstname.lastname@example.org as your e-mail address. Coating yourself with this professional facade will distance yourself from the stereotypical “bottom-feeding cybersqatter” or “dissipated scammer”, who blasts messages using free e-mail services (Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail) or parked domains, and align yourself with the highly respectable “pioneering Internet entrepreneur”.
- If you don’t live in a U.S. or you travel frequently, obtain a U.S. SkypeIn number and configure it to forward to your true phone number. Unfortunately, the likes of the Nigerian scam campaign, the high rate of credit card fraud originating from the Middle East, and other factors have made Americans wary of doing business involving citizens of non English-speaking countries without prior acquaintance. A U.S. SkypeIn number costs only $60/year and you’ll enjoy Skype’s modest rates for outgoing International calls (though JaJah’s are sometimes cheaper).
- Finally, consider writing “This domain is for sale” as your organization name; this line will not only confirm to end-users you address that your domain is truly available for purchase but also boost your chances of receiving out-of-the-blue inquiries.
Make sure to maintain a consistent whois profile across all your domain names.
Gathering Sales Leads:
We have dedicated an entire post to end-user prospect gathering. We recommend pitching to no more than 25 prospects initially. If your total number of candidates amounts to two or fewer, your domain is probably a “shot-in-the-dark” brandable and you face poor odds of flipping it; you also risk prospects accusing you of cybersquatting (though not necessarily indignting you) because your domain would stand valueless were it not for those 1-2 candidates’ sites. If your prospect list surpasses 25, your domain name probably corresponds to a broad product/service generic or category killer. In this case, we recommend trimming your list to the 25 most “reminent” (relevant + prominent) prospects because each step down from the #1 represents a diminishing marginal return on effort spent on your watch. NameFlipper.com provides a free service which can automatically locate these top 25 sales leads for you (whois contact information included) provided your domain name is sufficiently generic. Please contact us for details.
Collecting Lead Contacts:
We have written a post on gathering sales lead contact information as well. On one hand, e-mailing only the info@ contact of a large corporation will ride your e-mail through the automated paper shredder the moment you hit “Send”; on the other hand, mailing ten different employees within that organization will probably land you on their “say NO to desparation” hit-list. In general, we have found e-mailing 2-3 mid-level managers across different departments (examples: IT, marketing, and/or business development) to result in an optimal response rate. If you can only locate one contact, however, do not fret. The number of individuals you contact will not dramatically influence the underlying party’s decision so long as your approach style isn’t intrusive or overbearing. Avoid contacting the company chairman or CEO directly unless he or she oversees fewer than 10 employees.
Start by writing concise introductory correspondences from the e-mail address on your domain’s whois to the contacts you have gathered for each sales lead. Tailor these messages, proofread, and hit ‘Send’, one e-mail at a time. We recommend you write to all 3-25 sales leads you have gathered for the domain with a one-day span to help you determine collective interest, which will help you guesstimate the highest price you could get away with setting.
Your pitch subject should read “To [contact name] – [their current URL] website question” and its body should begin by addressing the specific contact(s) you’re writing by name (”Dear John”, or “Dear Doe Associates staff” if no contact is available, or “Dear Doe Associates business development staff” if you’re writing a specific department). Follow with a few words describing yourself, then mention domain name you’re selling and assert that it’s “available for purchase”. The next couple of sentences should contain a brief description of the recipient company’s core business or mission and imply “I read your website and, based on my findings, I feel this domain would suit you”. Stress that your offer is limited-time and you plan on contacting other candidates, but don’t shove this fact down their throat. If you’re offering a domain distinctly superior to their own (e.g. FunkyCapital.com where they own FunkyCapitalAssociatesLLC.com), you should juxtapose your domain name and theirs within your pitch, for obvious reasons. Sign the message with your real name, job position, and contact info (including phone number). If you have never pitched a domain before, we recommend you cut & paste one of our sample end-user pitch templates and tailor it based on your recipient’s website information. While these templates admittedly don’t quite resemble professional-grade sales letters, we have achieved an overall 13% positive response rate and 150+ enduser sales in four months’ time using adaptations of these templates.
Consider including holiday greetings or passing references to currents events within your letters. Even a practice so simple as signing your mid-winter e-mails with “Best wishes for the New Year” helps to engage your customer and boost your odds of garnering interest.
While the precise time of day you issue your pitch does not matter significantly, we have achieved optimal results when issuing all our e-mail pitches between 8am and 10am ET, particularly on Mondays. In a study of 1091 nearly-identical e-mail pitches we delivered to U.S.-based companies at a variety of clock hours over a 2-month span, our initial response rates were distributed as follows:
- Early Morning (6am-7:59am): 2 / 28 (7.1%)
- Mid-Morning (8am-9:59am): 13 / 62 (21.0%)
- Late Morning (10am-11:59am): 25 / 208 (12.0%)
- Afternoon (12pm-3:59pm): 48 / 366 (13.1%)
- Rush Hours (4pm-5:59pm): 16 / 235 (6.8%)
- Evening (6pm-8:59pm): 15 / 152 (9.9%)
- Early Night (10pm-11:59pm): 3 / 37 (8.1%)
- Late Night (12am-4:59am): 0 / 3 (0%)
We believe this observation resulted from (a) The fact our e-mail lay at the top of the pile when the employee we contacted walked into his/her office around 8am-10am, hence our message rested at eye-level and was convenient to address immediately, (b) The fact employees feel most refreshed and work-ready in the mornings, and (c) The fact most company meetings take place during afternoons and evenings. We have also found pitching on Mondays to result in a higher positive response rate than pitching on any other weekday.
Pricing and Negotiations:
If one of your end-users responds with interest (typically by requesting a price quote), the real fun begins. First off, you need to decide on a price. The SMB (small to medium-sized business) quick-flip “sweet spot” generally falls in the $195-$495 range for domains picked up at reg. fee ($10 or less) and in the $295-$995 range for domains captured via SnapNames, NameJet, or Pool.com for $59-$200. Consult our end-user pricing guide to help you calculate a price suitable for your domain name’s keyword strength and target prospect’s industry. Bear in mind that flipping a reg. fee domains for $195 apiece is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. Flipping 1 in every 10 reg. free domains you catch for $195 over a one-year span is equivalent to dumping your money in a CD that bears 100% annual interest.
Most end-users who respond with interest will have no clue whether your price quote represents a bargain or ripoff unless you justify your price. If you’re pitching a domain whose keywords represent a product/service generic with 5000+ EXACT annual Google searches (NOTE: we’re referring to search volume, not result count) and $1.75+ average CPC, explain how the enduser would benefit financially by building a landing page on your domain and, in all likelihood, secure a permanent top spot among Google’s rankings for the keywords within. If you’re pitching any other type of domain, such as a brandable, we recommend instead referencing sales of textually similar domains from NameBio.com or citing asking prices of similar domains listed on BuyDomains.com.
We will provide a blog post dealing with back-and-forth negotiation tactics later on. For now, we recommend you browse our end-user sales / negotiation transcripts to learn what some successful end-user negotiations have looked like.
Your price quote e-mail should include a deadline for accepting your offer (usually 4-5 days later for small businesses, 2 weeks for medium-sized companies, and 4-8 weeks for top dogs). If you do not hear back by a the day prior to your deadline, gently prod your enduser contact for his/her thoughts regarding your offer. If within 24 hours you’re still waiting on your contact, call your contact to gather his/her thoughts.
If the end-user rejects your figure outright, reply immediately inquring about the most he/she can offer. Under this scenario, however, it’s rare to find yourself walking away carrying more than half your original asking price.
You may have to prod your end-user a couple of times to father their thoughts on your domain name. We will write a post on strategically sound prodding shortly.
Approach you end-user sales with patience and mild persistence. Many transactions, particularly those involving big-name corporations, require weeks or months to close. Do not be afraid to call in periodically if you sense the negotiation stalling. But if your end-user stalls repeatedly — even once you and he/she have agreed on a price — don’t be afraid to set a firm deadline for completion of the transaction.
Finally, if you sense the end-user contact is extremely interested in your domain name but unable to pay, consider providing him/her the option of splitting payment over several monthly installments.
Closing the Sale:
Once you and your end-user contact have agreed to your price, the rest of the process is merely logistics. We offer only two pieces of advice.
First, if your end-user is U.S.-based and the sale price clocks in at $2500 or less, we recommend simply pushing the domain to your end-user’s account under the condition they remit payment within 24 hours afterward. This method will help minimize the probability of your end-user backing out of the sale due to mistrust. While domainers perpetuate scams on a daily basis, end-users have absolutely no incentive to rob you. In all likelihood, your rip-off report would burn a financial hole their into business prospects far surpassing your domain sale’s transaction volume. Across 150 enduser sales in which we have pushed prior to accepting payment, we have never once been conned or charged back. For transactions of $2500+ or with end-users residing outside the USA, we recommend using Escrow.com (either buyer pays or split fees, whichever you’re more comfortable with) as your end-user would appreciate the added legal protection.
Second, if you’ve notched your sale on a dropped domain within ICANN’s 60-day no-transfer window, do not create an account at your domain’s registrar on behalf of your end-user; have them create the account, accept the domain name from you. If you created the account, some end=users will suspect you’ve sabotaged that account with some kind of backdoor access and thus attempt to stall your sale.
As an aside, bear in mind that GoDaddy enforces an artifical 60-day transfer-lock following any change of contact information, NetSol a 30-day transfer-lock following “suspicious” changes of contact information, and eNom a 42-day “auction lock” (i.e. push AND tranfer-lock) following completion of a domain’s NameJet auction. The 42-day eNom is generally the most annoying because it blocks any form of domain transfer, but we have always found end-users readily willing to wait out this 42-day period if necessary. GoDaddy locks can be circumvented by contacting an executive rep. and NetSol locks simply by calling in. In the case of NetSol, your support rep. will promptly file a ticket to his/her supervisor and the supervisor, in most cases, will kill the lock 24-48 hours later.
Finally, thank your buyer for his/her business and encourage him/her to approach you if any technical questions arise. Certain industry players decide to go on purchasing binges in which they voraciously seek numerous domains pertaining to products/services in their field. The warmer the impression you leave your buyer with, the more likely he/she will become a repeat customer.