Archive for July, 2009

Selling domains to end-users: A guided tutorial

Posted in Uncategorized on July 21st, 2009 by joshuapz – 3 Comments

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, 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 and provide a domain buying/selling FAQ section (as one could find at, then using 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. 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. where they own, 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 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 or citing asking prices of similar domains listed on

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 (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.

Locating end-user decision makers

Posted in Uncategorized on July 21st, 2009 by joshuapz – 1 Comment

(NOTE: This post is a rough draft and may contain errors. Final version will be available shortly.)

Even if own the perfect domain for a company’s needs, contacting the right decision maker within that company can mean the difference between a 4-figure sale and a no-response. That decision maker is typically a high-ranking official within the company’s marketing, sales, or business development departments. Below are five different avenues — ranked from breeziest to most involved — that you could travel locate that receptive pair of ears:

1. Browse website contacts. If the company lists its executive directors’ names and e-mail addresses on their site, e-mail the two or three whose job titles appear most advertising-oriented. Avoid sending e-mail to info@/contact@/enquiries@ addresses or submitting online forms unless the company’s either extremely small (< 5 people) or you cannot pull up any other company contact information. sales@ e-mail addresses, however, ARE generally worth sending to. On occasion, you can locate the destination e-mail addresses of web forms by browsing the HTML source code of their containing pages (right-click > View [Page] Source); search for instances of the ‘@’ character.

2. Pull up Whois contacts. The ideal whois contact for pitching to is verifiably an employee of the company you’re pitching to and either a mid-level manager or VP. Google the names on the registrant and admin contacts, to help you determine their affiliations with the company. The technical contact is also worth e-mailing if he/she is an employee of that company (as opposed to an outside IT firm). Contacts protected by whois privacy or who simply have listed their webhost’s information rarely respond to soliciations, even if your e-mail is forwarded to the underlying contact’s inbox. If a company’s info@ e-mail address is listed as their whois admin contact, this is a positive sign as it indicates at least one company official is computer-literate and might understand the benefits of purchasing your domain name. If a specific company member’s business contact info is listed on her website (e.g. and her personal contact info listed in the domain’s whois (e.g., avoid pitching to her personal e-mail address as she would likely then consider you an intrusive bastard. NOTE: Many ccTLDs, such as, do not list e-mail addresses in their whois entries.

3. Jump back in time. Some companies list executives’ contact information on either their website or whois entries but later decide to remove them as an anti-spam measure in the wake of company growth. Other companies initially list contact information but enable privacy to immunize their staff from e-mail harvesting software (most registrars didn’t offer privacy at all pre-2005!). Unfortunately for those companies, the mantra that “no information is private anymore” holds true. Three tools —, DomainTools Historc Thumbnails (, and DomainTools History ( — allow you to peel off this protective armor by “going back in time” to the point before these companies delisted employee contact information. The first two tools archive renderings of websites, the latter whois entires. DomainTools History is generally the most effective for penetrating privacy protection (though you’ll need a DomainTools Silver account, which costs $15/month). Compare’s 2004-04-26 whois information to their 2009-07-01 entry. The former contains the CEO’s name / e-mail address of her secretary, whereas the latter lists a gatekeeper-type address. A search on Google or the business directory may reveal whether whois-listed name person is, in fact, the company CEO.

4. Wind through Whereas the “Jump back in time” strategy suceeds most often for contacting mid-sized companies, is fabulous resource for obtaining contact information of mid-dog and top-dog executives; they higher they rank on the food chain, the more likely it is that lists them. You can gain access to these business cards by spending Jigsaw “points”, which you can either purchase outright, or let accumulate by contributing data to Again, aim to contact team leaders and department managers within your prospect company’s marketing or business development divisions.

5. Surf the phone chain. If tactics 1-2 come up short or you can’t afford to try 3-4, call the company’s main number, obtain an operator, and ask to speak with a marketing or business development director in charge of handling business-to-business offers. You’ll like needy to flit through several departments before reaching the director you’re looking for (or his/her voicemail). Alternatively, you could obtain a marketing executive’s name for free via and ask an operator to hook you up with him/her directly. Once you’re transferred, be prepared to state your pitch in 30-60 seconds once you’re transferred. If you’re unfamiliar with pitching to corporate executives or you feel uneasy doing so, check out sales trainer Jill Konrath’s amazing blog on this subject at

How many of the contacts you gather via these methods should you speak with? Well, e-mailing just the info@ address alone of an established corporation will typically get your message bured instantly. On the other hand, e-mailing your offer to 7 different marketing executives will convey desparation. Overall, we have found the obtimal number of recipients to be 2-3 specific individuals spread across multiple departments (e.g. IT & Marketing), with the highest-ranking executive in the “To:” line and the others CCed. If you’re contacting a small, family-owned business, one individual should suffice. Be sure to address that individual by name in both the subject line (”To Mark – website question”) and in the e-mail body (”Dear Mark”) if you truly wish to maximize your chances.

Happy hunting!

Amassing end-user candidates for your domain names

Posted in Uncategorized on July 21st, 2009 by joshuapz – 2 Comments

Flipping generic domains to end-users for high returns feels amazing, doesn’t it? Not only is true that end-users — individuals and companies who intend to harness your domain names as platforms for distribution of products, services, and information — dish out more cash for generic domains than any other type of party would, but in the process of flipped you’ve injected value into the global economy by scooping your domains to men and women with development plans.  Chances are that if your end-user buyer paid an amount you’re satisfied with, their development plans are urgent, comprehensive, and well-defined.

Contrary to what many domainers believe, locating end-user prospects for your domains is incredibly simple if own enduser-type domains — generic products, services, and GEOs — such as the domains which appear in our NameFlipper lists. If you elected your domain purchases out of pure speculation, none of the methods outlined in this article (except possibly #5) will help you. Hit your back button and visit,,,, and other blogs/fora to learn which types of domains sell. If you’re willing to spend money to gain such knowledge immediately (and notch your first few end-user sales!), consider participating in our auctions.  Hundreds of enduser-type domains expire each day and can be caught for $100 or less.

And our methods for amassing candidates:

1. Peruse organic search results. It’s the most obvious but the most important technique. Search your domain’s keywords on Google, Yahoo!, and Bing both with and without quotes. Sift through multiple pages of matches if necessary, collecting lists of relevant candidates. Prospects who rank high, particularly on Google, often house interrnal SEO specialists and would be more likely appreciate the SEO benefits of building a landing page on your domain name. Google tends to place heavy emphasis on site prominence, Bing on closeness of match between query and site domain name.

2. Examine URL and title matches. You can directly locate web pages containing your keywords in their URLs via Google’s inurl: operator and in their titles via Goole’s intitle: operator. If you’re pitching, for example, you’d search inurl:simpletouch and intitle:”simple touch”. Google doesn’t offer a way to query which sites contain your keywords in their domain name specifically. For this purpose we recommend DomainTools’ Domain Search Tool at

3. Inspect sponsored search results. While vast numbers of these results consist of irrelevant catch-all advertisers (e.g. for product generics, for anything tourism-related, etc.), this is an excellent way to locate established players offering the product or service your domain keywords describe. If advertisers are bidding high on your keyword (check the Google AdWords Keyword Tool and enable the “Estimated Avg. PPC” column), these players might find the possibility of replacing their sponsored ads with your domain + a landing page very compelling. To locate sponsored results, search your keywords in quotes on G/Y!/B and examine which advertisers appear on the top, right and bottom sidebars. Additionally, you should perform a pure Google Sponsored Links Search ( on your keywords in quotes and peruse the matching advertisers. A Google Sponsored Links Search on “incontinence products”, for example, reveals Depend®/Attends®/Tena® as major manufacturers and HDIS® as the most prominent distributor of incontinence products. If you live outside the USA, be sure to search rather than as the former option will typically bring up far more advertisers.

4. Target owners of alternate TLDs. Oftentimes, endusers will secure keywords in multiple TLDs and choose to either redirect these domains to their websites or leave them parked in order to sample type-in traffic. For example, neither Storage Shed Plans nor MyShed Plans appear as organic matches on “shed designs”; however, the former comapny redirects to their estabished site at and the latter company parks If you owned, this finding would reveal two strong, fresh prospects worth contacting regarding their interest in purchasing your domain. The fact more endusers than domainers own ShedDesigns TLDs logically indicates that is an enduser-type domain.

5. Resarch keyword synonyms and corresponding industry players. To locate keywords similar to those within your domain, pull up the Google AdWords Keyword Tool and type your keywords into the search box (leaving “Use synonyms” checked and turning on “Filter my results > Include adult content in my keyword results” if your keywords are adult-related). Choose Match Type: Exact, then hit “Get Keyword Ideas”. Scroll down to the “Additional keywords to consider” section (sorted in descending order or relevance by default) and locate the first few matches which receive 500-25,000 exact monthly searches. Perform items 1-4 above on these matches. So say, for example, you own The AdWords Keyword Tool reveals users searching for “rabbit repellent” also frequently want “deer repellent”. Lo and behold, is owned by Plantskydd® — a company which also sell rabbit repellent — making them a white-hot candidate for your Alternatively, if you own, this method will reveal that your best potential candidates to be matches which appear on searches for “motorcycle loan(s)” and “motorcycle financing”. Finally, consider searching and for past enduser purchases of domains similar to your own.

6. Investigate specialized directories. One of my favorite tricks for locating endusers super-efficiently is to Google your domain’s keywords followed by the word “directory”. Say you own, for example. A Google search on “heavy construction directory” brings up, between the top few matches, several industry portals which collectively contain thousands of enduser candidates for this domain name! Most of these matches don’t include “heavy construction” with their domain names or page titles and would hence elude Google’s indexing on “heavy construction”. Further, if your domain name is product/service-oriented, we strongly recommend plugging your domain’s keywords into Try this out on (”vibratory equipment”), for example. It works beautifully.

7. Explore brick-and-mortar business listings. If none of your web-oriented candidates have bitten your bait, realize that the majority of potential endusers for your domain name (including many of the wealthiest!) likely don’t yet have Internet presences. comes to the rescue here. While their industry categorizations are often verbose and confusing, they display (approximate) revenue figures and employee counts for most U.S. companies so long as you’ve signed up for a (free) account and are logged in. These statistics, combined with our enduser priing guide, will aid you immensely in setting prices within reach of your candidates’ budgets. Other business directories worth exploring include Yellow Pages, Superpages,, Dexknows, and Hoover’s.

8. Take a swing through online stores. If you own a product generic, try this: perform some research to determine several niches your product falls into. For example, a little Googling on “conference folders” reveals that online stores which offer conference folders tend to sell “promotional items”, “corporate gifts”, and “leather products”. Now, Google these three categories (plus variations) and between them you’ll pinpoint of hundreds of potential destinations your You’ll be surprised how many of these candidates would take interest in your domain name, even if they don’t offer the corresponding product per se, as search engine-referring traffic often accounts for vast percentages of their revenues. They would hence likely appreciate the SEO boost that would accompany purchasing and developing your domain name.

9. Connect with domain brokers; obtain references. Never understimate the power of collective knowledge. If you own a particularly valuable domain name — such as a category-killer .COM which receives 10,000+ exact monthly searches — and are seeking to liquidate, consider touching base with a qualified, experienced domain broker. These industry mavens are often well-connected with communities of endusers seeking to purchase domain names that match specific criteria ( IP telephony-oriented names, domains begining with Jewish-, etc.) and can dispose of your domain quickly for a $250-$1000 commission. Major players in the domain brokering business include Rob Sequin and Rick Latona, among other. Rick publishes a daily newsletter offering premium domains to major buyers worldwide but is hermetically selective about which domains he accepts. You might also consider partnering with other expert enduser-facing selling by joining a domain buyers group.

10. Harness your passion. Are you just getting started in the domaining business? Remember that endusers are real advocates and business officials striving to create value through a cause or product. Visions for change, not notions of owning strong domain names, galvanize these movers to make purchases, and hence they will only select your domain name if they view it as a fitting little engine to help amp up their innovation machine. If you are completely new to the domaining industry, reread the previous two sentences, close your eyes, and put yourself in the positions of some of these innovators. Let these visions flow through your mind for 2-3 minutes. Now, grab a sheet of paper jot down your areas of expertise and causes you feel passionate about or have vied for in the past. Pick the 1 or 2 of these life areas you’re most intimately familiar with. Then, scan for dropping domains containing keywords characteristic of those subjects and list endusers who would value them based on your expertise. As a college student, for example, I felt passionate about Middle East peace One day, around the time I began domaining, two particular dropping names thus caught my eye: and They immediately evoked my memory of an organization named Israel21c which invested gobs of energy into spreading knowledge about facets of Israel beyond the regional conflict. Their site,, regularly published impressive fact sheets on Israeli society and technological developments. Despite that appears neither on searches for “israel stats” nor “israel peace”, I could not imagine a more perfect home for the domain pair pair. Israel21c readily purchased the duo for $400. You, too, can pluck the seeds of your world knowledge and implant them to become the roots your domaining experience. I wish you much success.