How Do You Respond to Inquiries? | DomainInvesting.com

How Do You Respond to Inquiries?

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I get quite a few unsolicited domain purchase inquiries. Many of them come as a result of the Voodoo.com sales form, others are sent presumably after finding my email address via Whois search, and others are sent directly from contact forms on my websites (like SHS.com and even DogWalker.com).

Generally speaking, I will reply to inquiries by asking the potential buyer to submit his or her best offer, or tell them the domain name is not for sale in the case of SHS.com inquiries and inquiries to my developed websites.

Lately, I’ve been finding that many people don’t even respond to my email replies that say something to the affect of “Feel free to submit your best offer for consideration.” I guess many people have no idea how much a domain name is worth and don’t bother submitting an offer.

I know there are people who will always price their domain names in response to inquiries, but I generally don’t. I prefer to let them make the opening offer so I can gauge whether they’re a buyer who will pay what I want or someone who will waste my time. It also gives me more of a negotiating advantage, and I don’t have to set a price, which establishes a ceiling. Needless to say, if they aren’t responding to my email reply, the deal is done regardless of who they are.

How do you respond to offers, and how has that been working for you?


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.


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Comments (22)

    Leon

    Another divisive subject, albeit an important one.

    I have only had a handful of unsolicited emails with regard to domain sales. Th majority have occurred as a result of me pitching the domains to prospective end users or from Sedo.
    The last enquiry I received was from a Dutch firm and they were enquiring about a name I had picked up at GD expired auctions. It was a domain that I thought related perfectly to the dating industry and at the time I was interested in that niche. The name was also the name of one of their IT services.
    Their approach was great, very polite and amiable. They said words to the effect of “Hello, we see you are not currently using the domain, it’s the name of one of our services which we have a standalone site for, it would be the perfect match, can we buy it”.
    I countered stating that I wanted to develop it and that a successfully developed site could yield $xx,xxx and therefore this would be my asking price.
    They responded saying that they totally understood but asked if I’d be willing to lower my expectation a little as they were a small firm and couldn’t possibly justify that expenditure.
    Now, I could have taken the Rick Schwartz line and said this is my price, pay up or shut up, but instead I decided to verify the claim that they were a small company and did a little research. Turns out they were not a multi-national with multi-million dollar turnover so we struck a deal for $x,xxx which we were both happy with. Deal was closed within a couple of weeks entirely on my conditions.
    I think you really have to take these things on a case by case basis.

    December 13th, 2011 at 4:04 pm

    Brad Mugford

    I receive a steady mix of inquiries via parking contact forums, direct whois contacts, phonecalls, sedo, my website, etc.

    If the domain has a really high potential upside, I think it is worth trying to have the potential buyer throw out a number first. I will normally educate the buyer as well as I can, then see if they are a serious buyer.

    If the domain is one with a lower upside I have no problem just quoting a price.

    I know many people are concerned about leaving money on the table, but to most domainers (outside the elite few), leaving some money on the table is better than leaving all the money on the table.

    Brad

    December 13th, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Dean

    The one thing that I have been doing is quoting an estimated “ballpark” figure in my replies to inquiries, giving the buyer a window or idea of the price I am looking for. I also leave myself some negotiating room both above and below what my asking price is.

    Adam Dicker’s video yesterday on Domain Sherpa, addressed this very question. He seems to have a good success rate. I recommend watching the video for insight and information.

    December 13th, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Brad Mugford

    I am more of a middle tier domainer. I think that is where the best return is.

    I would use the following analogy –

    Everyone would like to own a Ferrari, but there is a reason Toyota is the largest car company. They sell products to where the average buyer is.

    Brad

    December 13th, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Doc

    I had a recent inquiry to a 4 letter domain I have that exactly matched the buyers financial business name. I told him I already had offers over 2500.00, and to submit an offer . It would have been the perfect domain for their business. I checked on them and they had 50+ staff and 5 offices.

    They offered 100.00, so its obvious to me that this person has no clue as to the type of value that would be for them what so ever.

    It amazes me how some people think. They would settle for cheap crappy domain they registered such as financemetodayLLCcompany.com instead of the exact name match.

    And people wonder why business people in america dont succeed.

    December 13th, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    John

    Almost always I need to follow up with them with a few emails and get them to engage.
    I would guess that almost all my inquiries I have had to go back to them a couple times after I initially responded with a reply and asked for their best offer.
    It works and you’ll get a number out of them and then I consider it the initial inquiry in order to see if a sale is doable.
    In most cases it is unless they start at $100 or less
    I really don’t pursue unless it starts off at least at $500 after they quote me a number.
    In a small % cases, I may depending if its a name i know im not going to renew

    December 13th, 2011 at 4:45 pm

    Mitch

    Those “How much you want for keyword(s).com”
    get the following replies.

    Names I personally value up to $2,000,
    I’ll give a price quote and see how they reply.

    More expenses names I’ll just say make offer.

    Names that are clearly priced on the landing
    page simply get NO reply.

    Known domainers asking this question get
    NO REPLY :)

    God must love tire kickers, He made so
    many of them.

    “… and how has that been working for you?”

    Sometimes it takes longer to complete a sale –
    but that’s my way to make up for the times
    money was left on the table

    December 13th, 2011 at 5:09 pm

    Louise

    Your brother is your attorney? You have it made! Nice site for him: SHS – guess that’s adaquate repayment of any services to Top Notch!

    December 13th, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    jp

    If they are Whois offers they are likely from other domainers that didn’t check the domain or look long enough (automated system) to realize that you are the owner (Another domainer). Repy comes from Elliot (everyone knows you), it’s obvious they don’t have some helpless random person on the line and that ends the negation process without reply to you. Real buyer wouldat least reply once when there isn’t even a price set yet.

    December 13th, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    Brian Gilbert

    We’ve tried a lot of different methods and have had the most success by including a price. Sure, we get the replies that tell us we have no idea what we’re doing while other replies inquire further as to how we came up with our price. Well, we don’t give out our equation but I’ve typed up a nice response that explains a little bit and points the person to dnjournal. I’ve saved that as a signature so it literally takes me 2 seconds to reply. We’ve had more sales this year using this method than any previous method in previous years.

    December 13th, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    Elliot Silver

    @ Brian

    I am going to try that out and reply to the last few inquiries about NightLights.com with a price.

    Is your stock response confidental/proprietary?

    December 13th, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Brian Gilbert

    Our initial response is basically ‘Thanks for inquiring about domain.com. Our price is $x’

    Based on their response we either reply with my basic education about domains with the link to dnjournal or we don’t respond if we feel they’re just going to be a waist of time. You know, the people that laugh because we only paid $10 for the name and they want to offer us $20 to double our money. : )

    Spending a little time trying to educate them, I’ve turned $100 offers in to $9k sales. If and only if the numbers work in our favor will we show them Estibot. But that’s very rare. : )

    December 13th, 2011 at 8:10 pm

      Elliot Silver

      This was the reply when I gave my price for NightLights.com:

      “sorry…. not even close to wanting to pay for your existance for 3 years..
      great scam back in the day… buying up URLs…. I have many myself
      please don’t bother me again….. T”

      I told him that I’ve turned down $20,000 and $17,000 offers after buying the name 6 weeks ago. I also mentioned that my asking price wouldn’t pay for my existence in Manhattan for very long :)

      December 13th, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    Jp

    @Elliot

    That was a quick reply. He probably expected you to sell it for like $100. You should ask him what “urls” he has and if he is interested in selling any for what he expected you to sell yours for as you are looking for investments at a cheap price.

    December 13th, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Brian Gilbert

    We definitely get replies similar to yours. : )

    We usually don’t reply although I want to. Ha!

    If they don’t pay us what we want, I wouldn’t be able to take you to lunch when we come to NYC. LOL!

    For the record to the readers, Elliot always pays. He won’t let me buy him a meal. Now that he knows our sales system works, he’ll probably make me pay next time. : )

    December 13th, 2011 at 8:41 pm

      Elliot Silver

      @ Brian

      Your treat when I come to Tennessee… in NYC, it’s on me :)

      December 13th, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    Braden Pollock

    First off, it’s true that Elliot is not good at letting you buy him a meal. I’m working on him…
    I found that most domain inquiries for which I respond “Feel free to make a serious offer” go unanswered. If they were serious about buying the name they’d, at least, reply with an offer. I don’t waste much time with inquiries that don’t include offers.

    December 13th, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Jp

    Here is a recent one of mine. Like others have said, if the person was really a serious as they say, they would have replied again.

    This whole process took place over about 2 hours. All names and other identifiable details of the other party have of course been removed to protect their privacy. There was no NDA or other disclaimer sent at the bottom of any of their emails.

    From Me:

    Not a lot to go on there lol. I’m a domainer so I have many domains. I realize you don’t want to tell me too much but you are gonna have to tell me more than that. If I can help you out, great, if not, I hate wasting time on domain inquiries that wouldn’t work out anyway.

    Rest assured btw, I’m not some lunatic looking for a million dollars for every domain, but also not looking for lowball either. I think you get the value of this stuff, I googled your name (sorry, it’s my job) and you seem to have a history with google and a handful of ppc patents. Pretty cool btw.

    Forgot to mention in the last email, my name is Joe

    -Joe

    Sent from my iPhone

    On Dec 8, 2011, at 1:52 AM, 

    I’m a serious buyer – but also pretty flexible. My need is pretty generic so most names can work. If you have any other domains, let me know and I can give you a few options of ones I’m interested in.

    Thanks!

    On Thu, Dec 8, 2011 at 12:42 AM, Joe S. Politzer wrote:
    This is something we can discuss.

    Before we get too far can you give me an idea of how serious you are.

    Also, you are up late what timezone are you in? I am in Bali (American though just live here), so if you want to talk and you are awake it’s daytime here.

    Sent from my iPhone

    On Dec 7, 2011, at 11:56 PM

    > Hi there,
    >
    > I wanted to inquire about your domain, foal.com. I wanted to see if you have any plans for the domain, and if not I’d like to discuss purchasing it. I’m a recently graduated student, but am a serious buyer. If the domain is for sale, I’d love to talk.
    >
    > Thanks for your time!

    December 14th, 2011 at 12:30 am

    Peter Davis

    As a buyer, I have to say that I really appreciate Brian Gilbert’s approach. I’m much more of a buyer these days, and I buy to develop. Not that I’m a “whale” by any means, but I’ve spent over $50k this year personally, and several multiples of that on behalf of clients. My approach is to try and find three to five good domains for a project, and approach each of the owners at the same time. The people who reply like Brian, are typically the ones who end up making the sale. I might be the guy who doesn’t reply to your “make me your best offer” response, because someone like Brian replied with a solid price and made the sale. When I get a confident reply like that it’s easy to negotiate the sale or say “sorry too far out of our budget” whichever the case may be. As an “end user” I have to say that the reason I do that is so many domainers are really more of a pain to deal with than they need to be. There’s nothing really wrong with the “make your best offer” reply, but in my experience it really means “my domain portfolio is worth at least as much as Rick and Frank’s” when they’re really not.

    December 14th, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Abdu

    Most of the sales I’ve conducted through email were the result of naming my price. I can’t remember the last time I sold a domain through a “make offer” negotiation.

    December 14th, 2011 at 11:20 am

    JamesD

    @Elliot – “This was the reply when I gave my price for NightLights.com:

    “sorry…. not even close to wanting to pay for your existance for 3 years..
    great scam back in the day… buying up URLs…. I have many myself
    please don’t bother me again….. T”

    Similarly, I got a reply back from someone saying ‘we’re developers…the domain isn’t so important nowadays, and we have too many domains’.

    I asked what domains they have and if they ever want to sell to let me know. They came straight back with a list of 30 or so crap domains. I told them why I wouldn’t be a buyer for any – for any of their names, there were several which were much better, whereas the name I was looking to sell to them was the best name for purpose.

    Not heard back from them.

    ………………

    I’ve not tried this approach yet but am going to: if the enquiry is for a popular name that I’ve had previous enquiries for, I’ll ask them to tell me what they expect to pay for it as a gauge to their seriousness; if I don’t reply it means they’re not serious enough to be able to buy it.

    December 14th, 2011 at 11:30 am

    LS Morgan

    I used a weeder auto-response that instantly tells them the domain isn’t going to be $500 (which seems to be the figure most of them have in mind).

    Give up on the idea that the whole wide world is going to value domains like domainers value domains. “Getting” domain names is what allows a relatively small group of people to make money at it.

    Look at it like dealing art, because it’s a pretty accurate comparison. Some people think it’s absurd to pay $100,000 for a painting when they can go down to the Starving Artists sale at the local Super 8 conference room and pick up a lovely production-line painting of Dogs Playing Poker for $29.95.

    Like the value in a Pollock, the ‘value’ of a domain is derived from the fact that other people want it. It is indeed arbitrary as hell, but there’s no point in trying to ‘debate’ the fact with someone who is quite clear from the outset that they aren’t the target audience.

    December 15th, 2011 at 9:10 pm

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