If you have ever had difficulty selling domain names, this interview – really a master class – will provide the education and motivation you need to get moving in the right direction.
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Here’s your program.
Michael Cyger: Hey everyone, my name is Michael Cyger. I’m the publisher of DomainSherpa.com, the Domain Name Authority, and the place where you came to to learn how to become a successful domain name entrepreneur directly from the expert themselves.
If you are like me you want a bunch of domain names that you have acquired over the years that some of which you want to sell. But how do you sell domain names and what are the most effective domain name sales tactics. Joining me to answer these questions is Adam Dicker. Adam is the CEO of DNForum.com – the largest online domain name discussion forum. He is also the founder DNFCollege.com, an online school dedicated to mentoring a small group of people who want to learn how to become successful domain name investors. More than 3,000 students have gone through DNFCollege.com to date.
Adam, welcome back to the show.
Adam: Thank you and I appreciate you having me on the show.
Michael: For those of you watching this show and haven’t seen Adam’s previous DomainSherpa show, after this show you can go visit DomainSherpa.com/Adam-Dicker for an in depth look at how Adam built his most recent lead generation business in the medical industry – Specifically in the cord blood bank market. It is a great example of how you did not need to be into domain names in the mid 1990s to establish yourself and make money today. And hopefully we are going to have Adam back many more times. So if you hear a topic during this show that you want to learn more about in the future please scroll down to the comments and let Adam and me know what topic you would like a show dedicated to.
Today we’re going to be talking domain name sales, Adam. Those people who are watching this show maybe from the entrepreneurial community, the startup community, just business owners that want to learn how to sell domain names that they may own they may not know you as a domain name hall of famer, as the owner of the largest discussion forum in the market. Can we start off with some stats on your domain name sales? In a previous interview you told us that you currently own about 40,000 domain names. Some weeks you will go out and buy from five domain names to thousands of domain names. What is the highest domain name sale that you have ever made?
Adam: Well lets’ start with your original comment. Just yesterday I registered about 400 new names in fields I plan on entering for more lead generation areas. I’ve done some more research and like everybody else I found about 500 good areas for lead generation. So I’ll go back to lead generation for just a second and then I’ll hit the other question. A good topic for lead generation site is any product or service that sells for over $500. That allows you to make 20% and at least earn $100 per lead. Don’t bother setting up lead gen businesses for costs or services under $100 like florists or limo services. You won’t make more than $10 or $20 per lead or per sale, so for those set up affiliate links.
So like I said I’ve come up with a whole bunch of new ideas for lead gen businesses. I’ll give you a few nuggets now and then they can ask about them more later. So a couple that I am entering now are landscaping because it is a good time to set up landscaping sites with most of Canada and the US hitting winter. You have plenty of time to build out your site before March or April hits.
Michael: Is that landscaping design, landscaping installation, landscaping maintenance, all of those different areas?
Adam: All of those things. Mostly just basic landscaping and stone patios and things like that. And so I am dealing with landscaping, architecture (which is a big commission based business) and them dealing with many different types of lawyers like family lawyers, criminal lawyers, real estate lawyers, and even intellectual property lawyers like we deal with on the internet. So alright let’s hear your question.
Michael: Highest domain name sale you have made.
Adam: I have been lucky enough to have quite a few high end domain sales. Elephant.com was a good one but it is protected by a non-disclosure agreement. The store is quite famous. They UDRPed me and they lost. So they had no choice but to buy the domain name if they still wanted it, which they did. I believe the domain name sold in 2006. And I have sold quite a few other domain names like Forums.com, pw.ca (which I will get into a little bit more with a story later). I sold sm.com to a bank in the Philippines.
Michael: Are any of these public information Adam? Like Forums.com? Was that a six figure, seven figure domain name?
Adam: I think Forums.com is public. I think it sold for $400,000.
Michael: What about sm.com, a great two letter domain name that could be used for probably thousands, tens of thousands of companies out there?
Adam: Yes sm.com is a good story because I paid $15,000 for it and sold it for mid six to upper six figures. There are a lot of good stories but there are still lots and lots of ways to get into this business. It’s not hard like you say to get in and earn money in this business.
Michael: Have you sold a domain name in the seven figures?
Adam: Yes but like I said I can’t talk about the exact price. Two or three but I can’t talk about them because of the non-disclosures.
Michael: Elephant.com was one of them being a non-disclosure. Since you sold in 2006 doesn’t the NDA expire after a certain while?
Adam: To be honest with you I never checked on it. I don’t know. If they ask me not to disclose that I have to respect that.
Michael: So you own 40,000 domain names, you are buying a bunch it seems like every year. How many domain name inquires do you receive in any given month would you say?
Adam: About 100 to 200, both through email and through sales lin,000s on landing pages or through the marketplaces like Sedo, Afternic and Go Daddy auctions and things like that.
Michael: So you receive basically a handful a day and that leads to 100 or 200. For 40,000 domain names you receive 100 to 200 per month. And how many domain name sales do you typically make in a given month?
Adam: About 20 or 30. I mean it really depends. Of course that number would be higher if I was a motivated seller which I am not, which means I can afford to hold out for a better price. So it all depends. In some months people need to make their rent so they sell a little bit lower. There are certain times a year where you will get better bargains like between November and the end of January because people are trying to save money for trips or for Christmas presents. And in January they are looking to pay off their credit card debts.
Michael: Alright well you heard it here. If people are looking to buy now is a good time to get out there and start making inquires because people need to pay off their credit card or pull together some money so they can buy their holiday gifts. And if you are getting 20 to 30 sales per month what is your average domain name sales price per say? Leave out the sm.coms and the Forums.com, you know those are the ultra premium domain names that I think that are in a different class for a majority of your domain names. What would you say was the average domain name sales price?
Adam: Right now I’d say the sweet spot is between $4,000 and $9,000 but obviously some larger sales skew those numbers like you said. But $4,000 to $9,000 is about right. I own 3,500 four letter .coms and if I wait (and I typically do wait) they sell easily for $4 and $5,000 and I see people selling them on the boards all the time for $150 to $200 which is because they are impatient.
Michael: I get a few email newsletters with domain names for sale and I just look through them to see what is interesting and I noticed on one of them they had I think 3,500 four letter .coms for sale and you had to inquire to see what the portfolio was but at one point they were listed at a certain price and then they were reduced and then they were reduced and I think right now they are selling for around $60 or $70 per domain name if you bought the whole lot of 3,500. Is that a good deal considering that you are selling them for…?
Adam: Well I can tell you one thing those aren’t my 3,500 domain names. But yes $60 at 3,500 is a very good deal. You would be surprised at some of the inquires you get. Like I have got one guy, and some people aren’t that bright, his name is Clay Luy so he wants cluy.com and we negotiated a price and then he backed off and I know he is going to come back because he has no other way to get it besides to come through me. So at $60 a pop it is a very good investment, you are definitely going to recoup your money but you are going to be willing to wait.
A good example of that recently I sold a domain that I bought in 2005, I sold it last week, it was seals.com. I paid $6,300 for it in 2005 and last week it sold for $65,000 plus another $7,000 which was the broker fee which the buyer agreed to pay. So my take away was $65,000, which is pretty much 1000%.
Michael: That is pretty amazing. Clearly spread out over six years, you had to wait six years, you had to have enough capital to be able to put that on the side, wait your six years, pay your $10 a year renewal fees and finally it paid off. In those six years did you receive other offers that were for $3,000 or $5,000 and you said agh why did I buy this?
Adam: I mean I did get a good offer from the US government who wanted (it was a general or some sort of commander) who wanted to set it up for a Navy Seals type project but that never went anywhere. I’ve had some good offers on seals.com before but really the company that bought it they sell actual seals, not the animals, but seals to seal products, I don’t know what the hell kind of seals they really are really. When you are getting 1,000 times revenue you don’t really care what the seals they are actually using it for. It is not the club Seals I made sure of that.
Michael: Is that the clothes for baby seals.
Adam: It is nothing like that. So I am feeling good about it. And it was a good deal and you have to be willing in this industry to wait and part of the problem is people are very impatient; they want to get the quick fix. And they don’t realize that the only people that make money right away (and I take us back to the gold mine days) a lot of people or a lot of gold miners went out in the mines and they worked days and days, and months and months, to get a little nugget of gold and when they found it it was worthwhile. But what they don’t realize is that most of the people that made all the money were the guys that sold the picks and the shovels. So to me in our business the registers are the ones that are selling the picks and the shovels and domainers are the gold miners. And once in awhile you get a nugget but you have got to be willing to wait for it and you have got to dig for it and you have got to be very patient. And I am in a position and a lot of people are in a position where now with parking revenue as low as it is. To going back to full time jobs which allows them a steady income to support their families so they can be a little bit more patient in waiting for better numbers on their sales.
Michael: And I think that is a great point because so many people love Ron Jackson’s weekly emails and sales chart summaries that show what happened in the last week. He takes the sales from various marketplaces SEDO, Afternic, Go Daddy, anybody that publishes information he verifies it and does a great job listing them for sale. And I look at them as I’m sure other people do look at them and it is very easy to think wow that is easy money. You know I can go out and buy domain names like that every single day and I can just flip them. But that is not actually the case. These aren’t lottery tickets that somebody bought yesterday and are selling today. These are in fact domain names that people owned for awhile and it takes awhile for interested parties to contact them, to agree to a decent sales price and then to sell them.
Adam: Well you can go out and you can buy decent domain names and flip them very quickly but you are not going to get near as much if you wait for the right buyer to come along. And one of the things that I am going to get into later is it is very important to understand that as a domainer we don’t set the sales price for a domain name. The price is set by the buyer, what the buyer is willing to pay. So that part of it is really out of our control. So if we can get a buyer for seals at $1,000 and he won’t go any higher we can get a buyer that goes up to $6,500, we get a buyer that goes up to $300,000 because the name has value to their business. But that sales price is not set by me no matter what I do or how long I wait.
Michael: Good point. Before we get into the actual tactics themselves, you have already mentioned a couple of domain names that you sold recently. Do you have a few more domain names that you sold yesterday, the day before, the day before that you can throw out a domain name and a price so we can get an idea for the kinds of domain names that you are selling on a regular basis. Not the sensational ones, the great ones like seals.com that you sold for $65,000 but the nuts and bolts.
Adam: In my head I don’t really have any but I sold a few four letter .coms this week and late last week and again they sold between the $4,000 to $5,000 mark. Those are the ones that are in my head. I sold permissions.ca to a school board. It hasn’t completed yet but I know it will because they send me the contract and we both executed on it. There are a lot of other sales that do go through. The CA market is starting to heat up a little bit. So there are some good sales coming up on that. Off the top of my head, I’m sure I will think of something later on as we go through the interview.
Michael: Alright, we will get through it. So I went to DNF College, I looked at the website, I looked at what you are doing there. Some great, great content is being delivered on DNFCollege.com. You have been gracious enough to give me access to it so I could take a look around. On the course outline the first bullet that you list you say: You will learn that buying domains is only 5% of the work and 95% is knowing how to sell. Why do you say that?
Adam: I mean for selling a domain I always start out by saying anyone can buy domains. It doesn’t take a lot of brains to go out and buy any kind of domains, go to our beds (and I know you and I are going to do another video on how to buy the right domains later on) but the problem is you can go out and buy domains and that is only 5% of the work because anybody can buy a domain. But actually understanding how to negotiate a sale and how to sell will get you the most value for that domain name. So I can take a $2,000 and make it a $60,000 or $80,000 or I can take a $2,000 that you bought for $7 and you sell at $2,000 and you think wow great, but the problem is you have left a lot of money on the table. And you also have to remember and the most important thing, like I just said before, we don’t set the price, the buyer does. So you have to understand how to negotiate to get the best possible price. Always know what you paid for a domain name before responding to an offer. That way you know how much you stand to make or lose on a domain. And you don’t always make money on domain names. Sometimes you actually lose money on a domain name. But hopefully those times are rare. We are in a great business so don’t be too greedy or you will blow a sale.
Three days ago a gentleman popped me up on MSN asking me my opinion. He had an offer for a two letter .net for $36,000 and then they went up to $57,000 and then he said what should I do? I said take the $57,000 as fast as you can and close it. And he got greedy and he asked for just over $70,000 and he ignored my advice. Well the next thing you know the buyer pulls out completely, got pissed and the most they want to offer him right now is $35,000. He’s upset. I warned him he should have taken that $57,000, he didn’t listen and now he has learned a costly lesson. So you much remember though in our industry if we buy a domain at $8 and it sells for $100 you have made 1,250% profit. You will never get that kind of money on a return from a bank. So now I’m not suggesting that you sell all your domains for $100 but take it as a good example to show our business can generate profit like no other is done correctly. He didn’t take the advice at $57,000. It was a two letter .net. He should have taken it. Now he is going to have to sit out and wait a good six months to a year before they come back and if they still want the domain then.
Michael: Let’s talk about that because I agree it is a fair market, the market is set by the buyer. If you are offering a domain name for sale the offers that come in will determine the value of that asset. But, just like you said earlier with seals.com you paid $6,300 for it. It may have been a buy it now price, you bought it right then, the buyer set the price, why didn’t you sell that for $12,000 when that person came to you that you sold it to and looked at it and said I just received 100% return on my investment? Then over six years so you can reduce the value of it or whatever. Clearly the market sets the price but on the other hand you also determine the value of it. How do you wrestle with those two things Adam?
Adam: Part of becoming a professional domainer is understanding how to evaluate domains. And I personally evaluated seals at about $125,000 and I did that because, like I said, I’m not a motivated seller so I can sit and wait for the right buyer to come along. I did most of my big transactions back then through Escrow.com (which is great because it keeps a great history of what you paid for a domain name). So I was looking at the offer, and looking at the offer and then I went back and I looked and I saw I only paid $6,300 for it and then I realized 1,000% return is a pretty damned good return in any business. So I decided to let it go. And this is one that I actually used a broker for which I don’t usually do. And they sold the domain and I told them I would let it go for $65,000 but the buyer is going to have to pay your fee because I want to walk away with $65,000. And yes I could have sold it for $20,000 and I could have earned whatever, 400% on it and that could have been the scenario and if I had needed the money for something or I was buying a new house or I needed a down payment for something I may have.
I mean there have been times when I let domains go for much less than I should have. I am going to get to one of those stories probably at the end of this interview where I lost a lot of money because I had left a lot of money on the table but I still made a lot of money. So at the end of the day I can’t also worry about (and this is something that domainers do) I can’t worry about that I sold it for $64,000 and somebody else is going to turn around and flip it for $300,000 or $350,000 because that doesn’t matter to me. The bottom line is I made money on my investment. I can take half and invest in more domains or I can bank the whole thing and think okay this was a good investment for me. I’ve learned how to make money. I learned how to sell domains for a profit. Pat yourself on the back and say this one was a good one.
Michael: How did you determine that seals had a value of $120,000 to you?
Adam: Just over the years I’ve come to set up my own valuation tools and systems that I run through Excel and a lot of it is based on traffic, it is based on how much it is earning on Pay Per Click, it is based on brandability, it’s based on is this an industry defining term (which this one is)…
Michael: With seals you weren’t thinking about the animals, you were thinking actually about the seals that are in pumps or whatever to make something leak proof.
Adam: Well I happen to be famous for loving animals. I have been an animal lover my whole life. I watch Animal Planet all the time. So I bought Elephant.com, I bought Giraffes.com, I bought Seals.com and probably about a host of others. And it turns out that all my animals have been very nice to me.
Michael: Alright Adam for those that don’t have the 15 plus years – 20 plus years – I’m not sure exactly how many years of internet experience that you have what is a good bench mark for them to determine the value of a domain name? What is a good tactic for them to use? Should they go to an online evaluation tool? Should they pay for online valuation or online appraisals? Should they send you an email? What is the best way for them to determine the value of a domain that they own?
Adam: To be honest with you at the beginning, and I did this myself, I was lucky enough to find somebody that I could trust that I would run by things that I was thinking of purchasing or things that I was thinking of selling and say am I getting a good deal? And that is the best benchmark you can get. Find somebody you can trust, whether it be me or somebody else and use them as a benchmark. My advice on appraisal tools and all the guys that write them won’t like this but it is don’t ever pay for an appraisal. And why is because they are useless. Remember what I said earlier the buyer dictates the price. You little piece of paper saying it is worth trillions of dollars won’t get you any more revenue for your domain.
Appraisals are just a way for you to get an ego boost and a waste of money at the same time. There are also known scams of people asking you to get appraisals before they buy your domain name. Then you get the appraisal from the lowest company that they send you and that is where it ends. They never buy the domain name so please don’t fall for that either.
Michael: But what if you go to one of the more reputable services like SEDO.com is the largest marketplace in the world. They offer an appraisal for I don’t even know what it is. Let’s say it’s $30 or $40. I’m not sure, on that order of magnitude I’m sure. If you got an appraisal for $10,000 doesn’t that give you more ammunition when somebody comes to you and offers $5,000 or $1,000 for it? You could say hey SEDO the largest marketplace in the world said it was worth $10,000?
Adam: Not really because if the buyer is not going to give you any more money for it, it is completely useless. Plus in most cases the people doing these appraisals are running algorithms. They put in your domain name and out comes a price. So you are not really getting any value. They don’t know how many competitors there are for that domain name for that keyword. Like if you are selling insulation. You have 10 companies that are famous for selling insulation so Insulation.com may have more value and it may come out on an appraisal. But at the end of the day an appraisal is like a jewelry appraisal. A jewelry appraisal is only good if it is stolen and you want to replace it. You domain name hopefully won’t get stolen. And a domain appraisal has no value what so ever.
Michael: What about DNForum.com? Your discussion forum. Do you have a special area of your board that is just dedicated to getting appraisal input from other domain investors and those on your discussion forum?
Adam: Yes DN Forum serves as a gut check to keep you realistic on your prices. But I always tell people buy from domainers but don’t sell to domainers. And remember if somebody asks you to do it for a price or they send you an email about a domain name and ask for stats on a domain name don’t sell it because they are a domainer. Only domainers ask for stats on domain names. And you want to sell to end users. You don’t want to sell to domainers.
Michael: Okay so a domainer is going to ask you for stats, is it bad to provide those stats. If they are great stats wouldn’t that serve your purpose?
Adam: Yes generally stats won’t help the sale. If a gentleman is buying it, they are buying it because they want to brand their business, an end user they are not buying it because you are getting 10 or 15 or 100 or 150 or 200 users to the site. So I have never really provided stats to anybody. And I have never had any trouble selling domain names. End users simply do not know about domain stats and they don’t care about them. If they want Mikesblog.com they want it because it has some value to them. They see the value. I don’t see it but they do and that is the important thing.
Michael: I think we just gave the audience a great tip for those who want to value their domain names and clearly I think domain investors and other people know when they generally have crappy domain names and when they have decent domain names. So don’t go out and ping everybody in the world on your crappy domain names. Everybody knows that they have them in their portfolios. Rick Schwartz calls them pigeon shit. We all have them. Even Rick will say that he has them in his portfolio. But here is a great opportunity for those in the audience. If you want to reach out to Adam and you don’t know Adam go down to the comments, post a comment to Adam, tell him that you enjoyed the comments that he provided, the tactics that he provided in the interview. Start forming a relationship with Adam. And then maybe you join DNForum.com. Adam has been very open with his email address and with his telephone number and other contact details. Once you create a relationship it is easier to ping Adam and ask him for a quick piece of advice maybe on a domain name that you are thinking to sell. And there is a great opportunity to interact with a lot of domain name experts through DomainSherpa and other websites that are out there. The first thing you have to do is create relationships. So I will emphasize that.
Adam awhile ago I had Andrew Rosener on and he talked about valuing domain names, generic .com domain names by breaking apart the domain name into the individual words, going to the Google Ad Words Keyword Tool, typing in those individual words, finding out what the search volume is and the Cost Per Click on Google Ad Sense. So you have to sign into your Ad Sense account as well. And then multiplying those two things together, multiply it by a factor, by let’s say 35% and saying if you buy this domain name and you work on the domain name you can get it up to the top of Google’s organic search results and you should look at that investment as a portion of what it would take for you to buy marketing in Google Ad Sense to be at the top of that keyword phrase. Do you think that that is one way to value a generic keyword domain name?
Adam: Sure. Everybody has their own formula that they use. And what may work for some may not work for others. To me in general if a domain makes at least $5 a year it’s a keeper. But everybody has their own way of valuating domain names and that is certainly a good one.
Michael: So we have talked about setting prices. Clearly you are not providing any hard fast rules but ping other people. Look at Andrew Rosener for another input on valuating domain names and his interview is at DomainSherpa.com/Rosener-equation. DNF College another tactic that you provide is set your minimum offer requirement at $1,288. So when you go to sell domain names and you list them in different marketplaces your advice is to put a minimum offer requirement of $1,288. Why is that?
Adam: I do say that and where possible I don’t like to spend too much time with low-ballers however if you filter your domain name properly you can list what I call junk domains for $100 and still make 1,250% profit if it sells and you paid $7. So what I tell people is it is pretty clear: get a spreadsheet in Excel of you domain names, go back through your emails (as far back as you can), make a list of every domain name that you ever received an offer on, mark those domains in purple in the Excel spreadsheet even if it was a low-ball offer. These are keepers even if they make no money because someone has a need or a want for that domain.
Then I tell them to gather all their parking revenue for the last 365 days (if they can, if not grab the last few months and extrapolate) and highlight those in green – any that made more than the reg fee and those are keepers.
Then I tell them to go through the list again and look for any domains that you feel have development potential regardless of revenue, mark those in blue and those are keepers.
And then the final time I tell them to look at the domains that you feel you have a hunch are good but have no development potential and earn no revenue, marks those in red. These are probably not keepers. I classify these as junk.
So take a look at what is left without a color and then list them at $100 to sell them. You may make 1,250% on them and get rid of them and you won’t get that kind of interest at the bank. Or it is time to drop and some domainers are always afraid to do that.
Michael: So those domains that are junk let’s call them, list them for $100 and then if you don’t sell them within the year when it is time for a renewal then you just drop them?
Adam: If nobody else wants them you have no reason to keep them.
Michael: Where do you list them?
Adam: I list them on all the major marketplaces. I list them on SEDO, I list them on Buy Domains, Afternic, Go Daddy auctions. I list them on Go Daddy premium auctions. I list them everywhere because they have more exposure and overexposure never hurts anybody on domain sales. I list them on the forums. I list them on DN Forum. I list them all over the place. But I make sure the prices are consistent with the commission rate. And then the most important thing is if you do sell a domain name do into all those marketplaces and delete that domain name. I can’t tell you how many times I had offers on domain names after I sold them.
Michael: I have never gone onto any of these marketplaces and sold a domain name. Isn’t there one system that I can just sign into that will list it on all the marketplaces for me Adam?
Adam: Not really. I mean it is not easy. You have to go in and you have got to manually do it. The most important two are SEDO and Go Daddy because they command the biggest audiences. And are just good places to list your domains in.
Michael: So if you want to get the biggest bang for your buck go to SEDO and go to Go Daddy because those are the biggest marketplaces.
Adam: They have the biggest audiences.
Michael: And so you list it. Do you list it for a minimum offer of $100 or do you set it as a buy now price on say Go Daddy?
Adam: Well Go Daddy offers all different kinds of ways you can list it. There is a couple things here. I tend to list them as offer/counteroffer. And that way I still control the sale and I don’t have to sell it at a set price. The minute you set a price you could be leaving money on the table. But let’s not confuse Go Daddy auctions with premium domain sales. Premium domain sales are the names that appear on the front of the site when somebody searches for domains exactly or similar to your domain your domain will pop up. Those premium sales must be priced. And you can price them for whatever you want. I only set minimums, I never fix prices. That is just the way I do it.
Michael: Okay so you set a minimum so that the system doesn’t even email you for a low-ball offer. And that reduces the noise. And then the offers that do come through are over the minimum and then you can either reject them, counteroffer or not respond.
Adam: Usually I counteroffer. Most offers when they come in at $1,288 they are serious. I mean you can tell a lot by an opening offer. If you get an opening offer of $50 to $100 you probably know you are not going to get them too high. Maybe to $200 to $300 if you are lucky. But if you get an opening offer of $1,200 you know it is going to close somewhere around $4,000 to $6,000 because nobody comes in with their best price right away.
Michael: So at Go Daddy they do offer for sale options. We just had an interview go live with Paul Nicks from Go Daddy auctions. So you can do to DomainSherpa.com/Paul-Nicks and I know Adam you are saying I haven’t seen that interview because it is coming out on Monday but by the time this interview comes out Paul will have gone live. And he goes into a lot of the details. There are four sale options on Go Daddy. They have the offer/counteroffer, you have the offer/counteroffer/buy now, a buy now only button and then you can send it to seven day auction. So for example if I put in an offer on one of your domains Adam you could say I don’t like that I’m going to send it to the seven day public auction and we will see what happens. What the market will bear on that price. So do you ever list your domains with a buy now price because you want to have it listed in the avail check process of Go Daddy when people are searching for a domain name?
Adam: Yes I list some of the ones that I want to list on the Go Daddy premium auctions with a sales price. Those are usually my four letter .com names or some logo domain names that I cap at about $4,888. And if they sell at that price (and I tend to sell one a month or one every two months) and it is just extra cash.
Michael: So you do list your four letter domain names with a buy it now price because a lot of people are searching for those short domain names and it is easy cash?
Adam: Yes $5,000 is a reasonable price to get for a four letter .com that doesn’t make any sense. I mean I wouldn’t list Worm.com for that but I would list other domains with letters that don’t make any words or sense on them for that because to other people I have sold a lot of four letter .coms to people in other countries where the words actually make sense to them.
Michael: Let’s talk about sales inquires. You have got your 40,000 domain names, you receive 100 to 200 inquires per month. Most domainers don’t have as many domain names as you do. So you could probably scale it down if I have 4,000 domain names maybe I’m going to receive 10 to 20 domain names as a general rule of thumb. Who knows if it is going to be right if my domains are going to be as good as your. But when sales inquires come in do you personally manage every single one of those inquires that comes in or do you have a staff or a team that helps you manage them?
Adam: I have a staff. I have a team of designers and developers and content writers. I’ve also had the same assistant for the last 12 ½ years. But the one thing that he doesn’t touch is anything related to monetary so I am the one who answers all of the sales emails and I handle all of the transfers and things like that. He has never had has access to my account.
Michael: So approximately 5 per day inquires that you get you manage them yourself.
Michael: Do you have any examples of a sales inquire that came in, and I am suspecting that some of them are low-ball, some of them are medium-ball, nobody comes in with an $80,000 offer right off the bat. Are most of them low-balls or do you receive a decent number of them as realistic or decent prices coming in?
Adam: Everybody likes to get the best price for the buck so everybody tries to low-ball you to begin with. I’ll talk a little bit further on on how you deal with some of those. I have a couple of stories at the end of this on how I dealt with low-ball offers.
Michael: One of your recent offers that came in?
Adam: Yes. Sorry say again?
Michael: Can you give us an example of one of your recent offers that came in via email and how you handled it?
Adam: Nothing comes to mind right now. But basically what I do is either follow it up with an email. And don’t be afraid to say look we are not in the right ball park. I am looking for this much on this domain name so I suggest you go pick another domain name. I have done that quite a few times. And they have turned out to come back to me with more realistic offers and we have closed on much higher sales.
Michael: Okay so I am going to do a role play with you. I want to buy abcd.com. I do a whois look up because I am educated enough to do that. I see that dcg.com owns it or Adam Dicker owns it through the whois. So I send an email to the email address on file, even though you have it listed on different marketplaces and say Adam I would like to buy this domain name from you. I can offer you $100 for it.
Adam: So the first thing I do is look at it and I figure out what I paid for it. I know I paid $7 for it. And then I’m going to send you a note back saying I respect your initial offer but it is far too low. I am looking for something in the neighborhood of $4,000 to $6,000 for this domain name. And if this is not a raise that you are comfortable with in setting up your new business then I suggest you look elsewhere and purchase a different domain name.
Michael: And I respond back to you Adam and I say hey I watched your DomainSherpa interview with Mike Cyger. I know that you understand that the price is set by the market, what the market will bear. I can bear $1,000 for the domain name Adam. I think it is a reasonable price, I appreciate your time, let me know when we can close.
Adam: Well I appreciate your offer, it’s a good one and it is a respectable offer at this point it is still far below what I was looking to get for the domain name. What I am willing to do is drop from the $6,000 to the $4,000 and that is pretty much my bottom line price at this time.
Michael: So you know what you want to get out of the domain name. You are willing to walk away from the sale because you know if you wait long enough somebody is going to think $4,000 for a four letter .com domain name is reasonable. And you are willing to wait.
Adam: I am but you have also told a lot more information but in your change from $100 offer to $1,000 offer has told me that there is a lot more room to move. You can tell by the negotiation process. That is why it is so important how high somebody moves and how quickly that they are really in wanting this domain badly. So you went from $100 to $1,000 so I know for sure that I can probably close you at around $3,500 if I want to. $3,000 minimum and on a domain that I paid $7 for.
Michael: Now if I would have thrown in another sentence in that reply and said this is the highest I can go.
Adam: Then I would have said okay, again I appreciate your offer, it’s a fair offer, it’s just below what I am looking for the domain name. You need to spend a bit more money to invest in your business. Getting the right name is very important and I give them a little bit on why the premium domain name that they have chosen would be good for their business. And I say but I wish you luck. And you can go register another domain name at Go Daddy if you like for $7 but it is not going to give you the same kind of branding and the same kind of client base, or instant traffic, that you are going to get from my domain name.
Michael: So you know that you want to get $4,000 so you start at $6,000 to give yourself some room to come down in price for negotiation tactics?
Adam: Yes you have to leave yourself some room. But you also have to be realistic. You have to know that sometimes you are not going to get your $4,000, sometimes you are going to sell it at $3,000 or $2,500. But at the end of the day it really doesn’t matter because you still only paid $7 for that domain.
Michael: Private or public whois information on all of your domains?
Adam: Always, always, always public. I mean don’t make it hard for people to find you. Make it easy for people to find you. The only people that need to hide are the people that have trademark domain names and by now you should have gotten rid of all your trademark domain names. If you currently own a trademark domain name, or trademark typos, get rid of them. They can only get you into trouble. What I suggest is that people visit trademarkia.com to look for current trademarks or to register a trademark. And then Go Daddy has a really cool feature in the domain control center called Delete Domain. And it sends it into redemption right away. So use that feature and dump bad domains. I have gotten a couple C&D letters in the past. I went in and just hit delete domain and that was the end of it. The maximum fine for having a trademark domain is $100,000 per domain plus any revenue that you have made off of their trademark in that domain name. Do you really want to risk that? I don’t.
Michael: That is a great point. I am a big believer in karma as well. And I don’t mess with other things that are going to reduce my karma. That is a great tip also for the delete domain because I know that I have got crappy domain names in my portfolio. I set them to non-auto renew so they won’t renew the next year because I know that they are just crappy hyphened or .net domains.
Adam: I am even going to give you one better tip that I normally wouldn’t give out. And that is when you go ahead and delete that domain name, before you do it, go in and change the whois information to fake whois information and then delete it so that while it is in redemption it’s not showing your real name and address. It is just showing junk.
Michael: Oh that is a great idea. I don’t want to receive those renewal emails every week for the six weeks leading up to the renewal or what have you. So that is a good idea to use. Okay so we talked about getting the most exposure as possible, make your whois on the domain name public. Do you have a preference whether it should be a company name or a personal name if they actually have a company name that they are using to sell domain names for example?
Adam: Yes, generally you should list your domain names in a company name because a company offers you extra protection should there be an issue or a law suit or something like that.
Michael: But the legal entity aside for protecting your assets Adam. Do you think that buyers looking up a whois will say it is worth more because they can see that a company owns it versus an individual?
Adam: It probably does but I don’t think that that has any bearing on any of my sales.
Michael: Okay, public whois information. Marketplace we talked about. If you want get them listed on all of them, but if you have to minimize your work and try and get the biggest bang for your buck list them on SEDO and Go Daddy auction. SEDO being the largest marketplace in the world in terms of the number of domain names and Go Daddy being the largest domain names in terms of the domain names sold per month. So get onto those. Should the domains be parked just to have a for sale link displayed. I know a lot of domainers don’t want to park them. They don’t want to have advertisements listed on them. They don’t want to have to manage them. You know they just look for inquiries to come in or they sell them through the marketplaces. Do you recommend that they do park them in order to have a for sale link displayed like is done on SEDO.com pages or a host of other parking companies?
Adam: I park my domains. There is nothing wrong at all with parking your domains until you get around to developing them. Just make sure that parking for you is just a step towards development.
Michael: So that is sort of the passive selling process. You list your whois public information, you list them for sale. Let’s move to proactively selling domain names. Which domain names in your portfolio are worth proactively selling? And contrast those to which of your domain names are worth waiting for inquires.
Adam: Personally most of the time I wait for inquires. And sometimes I go find them. But going back to that Excel spreadsheet anything that you didn’t list or highlight is not worth going out and proactively selling.
Michael: Any general rules, generic words, two-word domain names, three word domain names, four letter domains.
Adam: No because you never know what the buyer is going to be interested in. I have sold some three and four letter word domain names that I would have thought would never sold for anything more than $20 or $40. So you really never have any idea what they are looking to sell.
Michael: At one point you actually well let me come back to that. So if you want to sell a domain name, let’s say that I’ve got a domain name that is related to pictures and I know that Flickr and other companies online that make money through the premium model. You can upload some pictures for free and then you can get more space or more services by paying a membership fee per month. Let’s say that I have a domain name that I think Flickr might like (which is now owned by Yahoo I think). Is it worth me to reach out to that company to try and sell it?
Adam: Sure I mean as long as it’s not a trademark and you are not trying to capitalize on their traffic it sure benefits you to reach out. It also benefits you to use something like LinkedIn to find a contact within that company that would have more influence than you as a total stranger.
Michael: Who would I want to reach out to in the company?
Adam: Any VP, any CFO, anybody with any decision power. And there are lots of them. They are all listed in LinkedIn. So LinkedIn is the best place to hit somebody that can influence a decision on a domain name purchase.
Michael: So I am looking for somebody with some sort of authority with the company. I am not looking for the customer service reps, I’m not looking for a sales person, I’m not looking for a developer there, I’m looking for someone at the VP level or above.
Adam: Yes you are looking for somebody that can decide, or influence the decision, or pass it up to the person who can influence the decision and make that decision to purchase.
Michael: Okay so I can go on LinkedIn. I think LinkedIn gives me a certain number of in-mails per month so I can send that person a mail saying I have this domain name, I think you might be interested in it, let me know if you want to discuss it. And that sends it out to them. And I can upgrade my account and buy more in-mails to send to them.
Adam: Yes and there is no harm in doing that what so ever.
Michael: Is there any other ways for me to get names and email addresses of potential buyers.
Adam: Yes this is going to take us into the longest part of the discussion that we are going to have.
Michael: Is this the information on how professional broker sell domain names?
Adam: No we are going to get to that a little bit later. First of all I want to talk about when you get an offer with or without a price and how to deal with that offer. So this is going to be me talking a little bit.
Michael: Okay let’s do that and then we will come back and I will join my questions inline.
Adam: Okay, so whenever you get an offer with or without a price you have to look at it closely. You have to analyze it from top to bottom. It can tell you many things about the potential buyer. Here is a list of things to do with initial offers so you can get the upper hand. The first thing you should do is: Is the email from a company email? If yes, go to the company’s website and see if it is obvious why they would want to buy your domain name. If no take the Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo or other email and Google it. People tend to keep the same email and that may lead you to their real names.
If the email is signed with a full name: If yes look for them on LinkedIn and then Facebook. LinkedIn is the most powerful. It shows their company, their title and their website. Follow where that lead takes you. That may help you understand why they want the domain name.
Number three: Is the email written in perfect English? This will also help you as generally company inquiries from intelligent people can’t get away from their writing styles.
Fourth one is if none of this works reply to their email with this (and I have done this many times): We do not take inquires seriously when they come from a Hotmail, Gmail or Yahoo email address. Please email me from your company email and I will take this inquiry more seriously. And many times they have venues their real emails to continue the exchange and then I get their real names and then I can follow some of the steps as above.
Michael: Great, let me back up for a second. The perfect English. Tell me about that again. If something comes in with broken English what does that tell you and how do you respond?
Adam: It tells me I am usually dealing with an individual and I could be looking for somebody who is prospecting or just trying to make money off a quick flip. They may not be using it for their own company. They may be and they may not be but usually emails that are sent out in perfect English (and I’ve had a lot of those) do tell you a bit about the person. Writing styles – you can tell quite a bit from that initial opening email that comes in. And if you have any other questions I’ll let you ask them.
Michael: I love the idea we don’t take emails through generic email addresses, please send it from the company name because then it opens up more information from them. You now know their full name, you know their company name. You can do some research on LinkedIn, on the web, and gather some information. So I understand that perfectly.
Adam: And 95% of people will send it from their business email less than 10 minutes later.
Michael: So that gives you a lot of information to move forward with negotiation processes. Is there anything else that comes in that you look for?
Adam: Yes there are three types of domain sales inquiries and how to handle each one. So in all three scenarios you have to take control of the offer and not leave control with the buyer. The first way is when you receive an expression of interest without an offer. These are usually a waste of time unless you can solicit an offer from the person. So respond by saying thank you for your interest in my domain planets.com. I currently have plans to develop this domain but if the right offer comes along I may consider selling it. Please feel free to submit your best offer. And then I just sign it with my company information and all my contact information. This way you will know if they are a chain puller and it will lead you onto an appraisal scam or if they are just a bargain hunter asking for an offer. Let’s you right away know if they are wasting time, if they aren’t in your ball park.
Michael: But on one hand you say take control of the situation but then on the other hand you say submit your best offer. Why wouldn’t you just say I know that I want $120,000 for seals.com? Submit your best offer and it better be over six figures. Or it should be over six figures in order for me to seriously consider it.
Adam: You can do that too. Sometimes I’ve had best offers come in above what I would take for the domain name. So that is why I do it that way.
Michael: And if you were to say make sure it is over six figures or submit your offer of a minimum six figures. They may just come back and say here is my offer of $100,000 whereas if you wouldn’t have said that they may have come back with $140,000.
Adam: In that case because they haven’t submitted an offer to begin with they probably won’t come back with an offer at all if you say I want $150,000 for the name. So you have scared off a potential lead whereas maybe they would have come back at $10,000 – $5,000. And remember that as long as you know ahead of time the domain that they are inquiring about and what you paid for it you can sell it for a lot lower than $100,000 and still be making quite the profit. And have more money to invest in future domains.
Michael: So that was the first tactic. Get the offer.
Adam: The second type of offer is an offer with a price. You can tell a lot from the original offer. For example if you get an offer for $500 that is somehow serious an offer and you know that you have room to negotiate. The final price should be between $2,000 and $5,000 if you handle it correctly. Whereas if you get an offer between $10 and $100 you know this will probably be a waste of time unless you paid $7 for the domain name and you have no development plans for this domain. It is a good chance to dump one of those junk domains we talked about. Take your 1,250% profit as discussed earlier but you should still aim for the $500 to $1,000. The worst they can say is no.
So at that point you can reply with okay what is your best offer? When they reply you can decide to take it or tell them to pick another domain name. I have sold many domain names, even the high five to six figure range, by telling them to go pick another domain name. They may get pissed off for a little bit but usually they come back within a week to two weeks. Again they don’t have much choice but to deal with you if they want the domain. People want what they can’t have and that’s why we see auction prices sell for much more than the name is worth. And don’t be afraid to say we are not even close on the price I suggest you pick another domain name for your business. And I wish you luck in your future endeavors almost ending then conversation. I have used this many times and it has worked like a charm.
Michael: That is an offer with a price. What is the third offer type?
Adam: Well I am still sticking to that. When you get an offer and you don’t respond too quickly half the fun is the chase. Here is a good example. I made an extra $100,000 on a domain sale because I got an offer on Thursday and I didn’t bother responding until Monday. To my surprise they upped their amount due to my lack of response by $100,000. That was Forums.com by the way.
Michael: They upped their response by $100,000.
Adam: $100,000. Just because I didn’t respond. I responded quick to the first few offers and then I paused. And they got scared that I wasn’t going to sell it so they upped their offer and I was just about to type okay I’ll take $350,000 and meet you half way and then in came my inbox saying fine we will take it at $400,000. So stay in control. You have what they want and it is not like the cookie cutter houses where they can go next door if they don’t like your price and get the same house for cheaper. There is only one domain like yours and if they want it they need to pay for it. But don’t be too greedy or you’ll lose it like that guy that lost the $57,000 earlier that we talked about.
Michael: Alright. Third offer type? You did have three?
Adam: I did have three but I am a little lost on what my third was is because I went off the trail there.
Michael: So you get an offer. Either the offer comes in and there is no price attached. You will contact them back and you will say submit your best offer. Second offer type comes in, it’s an offer with a price, either it is $500 or above, you know you can get them up because it is a reasonable offer or it is a high enough price that indicates that you can probably negotiate. Or if it is in the $10 to $100 range it is probably a waste of time unless it was a domain name that you knew you wanted to sell for that price range.
Adam: Sometimes you will get an opening offer of $10,000. And those opening offers tell you how serious they are about wanting the domain, how much they want it and they give you a lot of room for negotiation depending on that price. Plus the other thing to pay attention to closely is the price like you did in our little role playing example where you went from $100 to $1,000. That is quite a jump in a negotiation. Usually they will go from $100 to $250, but if you go from $100 to $1,000 and then I know you want the domain more and I know I can get you to the $3,000/$4,000 sweet spot that I am trying to get you to.
Michael: And if I went from $100 to $250 on a domain that you wanted $4,000 for it and your initial price to them was $6,000, would you consider that to be a waste of time? You would respond back saying I don’t think we are going to meet up here. I want at least $6,000 for it and you should go look for another domain name?
Adam: That is pretty much exactly how I would respond. But I would keep track of their email and the offer and the domain that they were interested in because, in like I said filtering your portfolio earlier, you want to keep all domains that you have ever had an offer on them no matter how crappy it is.
Michael: So all these come into you via email. Do you ever get somebody calling you up saying Adam, show the domain I’ve got to have it?
Adam: You are getting me to skip to some of my stories down at the bottom. I’ll skip down to one of those right now just because I can tell you are dying to get this one. So there are a couple of good stories. Let me find the one that I wanted. Okay so it’s not even on here. So this isn’t even one of my stories so I can go back up to where we were.
I got a call from a guy who wanted to buy MegaCity.com from me. He offered me $2,000. I happen to be talking to my wife on the other line at the same time, so I wasn’t very interested or very motivated to talk to this guy. So what I did was say look I’m not really interested in $2,000, your offer is not good enough. We need to hit $80,000 to $90,000 for it to be serious.
Michael: Let me pause the story here for a second. Megacity, if I go to Google Ad Words and I type in mega city it is probably not going to have any search volume. If I go to EstiBot or Valuate and I type in it is probably going to come back with $7 reg fee or something. It is a brandable domain name right? Am I thinking through this correctly?
Adam: You are thinking through it somewhat correctly. They only advantage that I have over you, and this is one thing that I stress, is that the person that owns the domain and the portfolio has to know it inside out. And I will give you two examples for that. I always got traffic on a domain called 96123.net. Now you wouldn’t know what kind of traffic that way but know from going research on it that 96123.com is a Chinese site that sells phone cards. So I am getting a lot of traffic from people looking for phone cards.
So let’s go back to mega city. Yes it is probably not worth on stats probably not worth more than $500.
Michael: Okay but you could argue that brandable domain names, any brandable domain name is worth $2,000, $3,000, $5,000 if you are willing to wait long enough?
Michael: Okay so let’s pick up the story. He calls you, you are on the phone with your wife, he says hey Adam $2,000, let’s skew the deal today and you said I think that this domain was worth how much?
Adam: About $80,000 to $90,000 and I wasn’t willing to sell it for less. Now the reason that I wasn’t willing to sell for less is because I live in Toronto and Toronto and all of its suburbs is known as the Mega City. So that is why I got the domain MegaCity.com. So it has meaning to me.
Michael: It does and it probably has a lot of meaning to a lot of people in that geographical area.
Adam: Well I have since learned that California and all its suburbs are called the mega cities. And then I also did some research after the phone call (and I will tell you how the phone call ended in a minute) and I found out that Mercedes was coming out with a new car called The MegaCity. So right away I thought it was them and I thought they wanted it because of the car. So anyway I said I wasn’t interested and then he threatened that he has a trademark and that he would come after me and he would get the domain through UDRP. And I said that’s nice, have fun and I hung up on him.
About a week later he emailed me back, like they usually do and he increased his offer.
Michael: By about how much?
Adam: It may have been about $10,000. I don’t know. But this whole email stream of emails that happened is listed on DN Forum and it was a very, very popular stream and you’ll see from on DN Forum if you do a search for MegaCity from the beginning of the sale to the end of the sale where it finally sold. It didn’t take long. It took like three or four days of going back and forth, maybe five days. But in the end the final sales price was $65,000. $60,000 or $65,000, I forget. So I got close to what I wanted. He got the domain. It turned out to be a Brazilian guy who is starting a game called Mega City and he wanted it to brand his game.
Michael: So from your prospective as the seller it really made no difference whether somebody contacted you via telephone or via email, you know the value that you wanted for the domain name, you countered with it and you stuck to your guns. They could have walked away and you could have been left with a domain name and held onto it until somebody else was interested.
Adam: Yes but the other benefit that I have is, because I do all the buying and selling, there is not really one domain name that I have bought or sold that I don’t know what I paid for it. And this was one of those where I paid $10,000 for MegaCity.com. I had no action on it for about seven or eight years. This was the first guy that called on it. So I figured selling it at $65,000 I was getting a 600% return on investment over eight years and I decided to sell at that point.
Michael: Have you ever been soft on somebody that called you up and created a bond with you over the phone to be able to get it at a better price?
Adam: That is a strange question but yes I actually have. I once actually gave a guy a domain for free because he came to me with a good story about his wife who started a business. I still remember the domain and this was probably about 10 years ago. The domain was called bottletree.com. And his wife was running some business making bottle trees. And I went to check it about two weeks ago and she is still selling bottle trees on bottletree.com. It is a unique product. He came to me with the story about how he wanted it for his wife. Told me a whole sad story and he was honest with me about it that she was nagging him and he wants it. And being just married about five years I could understand a little bit of nagging. So I felt for the guy and I gave him bottletree.com.
Michael: Nice. Do you ever get snail mail sent to you through the postal service where somebody will say I want to buy this domain name?
Adam: No. Never.
Michael: Any faxes ever come in?
Adam: No. Never. Just phone calls or emails.
Michael: If somebody is sending you a letter to buy your domain what should be in that letter? An email let’s say. Somebody is sending you an email, they want to buy that domain. What should be in there in order to get the deal done?
Adam: It should have their information, their personal information, their real information and it should have a price.
Michael: And the price should maybe be in the three figure, four figure range depending on the domain?
Adam: Yes depending on the domain name.
Michael: So your tip for somebody, for an entrepreneur that wants to buy a domain name if we said that brandable domain names, not Mega City, one that has been used. If you go search for it on the internet it probably does have a good amount of search volume. But other brandable domain names, abclandscaping.com – well that one has probably – greentreelandscaping.com. If I wanted to buy that brandable domain name, any brandable anybody can argue that it is worth $3,000. If I came in with an offer of $500 you would think that that is reasonable enough to have a conversation with?
Adam: Yes especially if I bought it for $7.
Michael: You did research on that person. You saw that they were a landscaper. Landscapers don’t make enormous margins on their work. Would you consider selling it for less than $3,000?
Adam: Probably not. Landscapers do make good money on what they do. It depends. That is another good point and we will get into that in the discussion when we talk about buying domains but you will have a harder time selling a domain to a landscaper or a baker (like Seattlebakery or Seattlelandscaper) than you will say selling something Seattlecriminallawyer, Seattlelawyers. Picking the right domains to sell is also key.
Michael: Do you use different sales tactics if you’re selling a generic domain name, you know Forums.com versus a brandable domain name MegaCity.com, versus a geo domain name Seattlelawyers.com?
Adam: No. Well I mean there are different ways to find purchasers. Like if they came to me, no I’d use the same strategy whether it is a $1,000,000 domain, $500,000 domain or $100 domain. It is the same strategy.
Michael: So the strategies that we talked about and the strategies that you use are the same regardless of the type of domain.
Adam: Yes regardless of the type of domain and regardless of the price. If we are not at the ball park at the $100 we are not…and I’ve had people say they will just offer me a reg fee and that is it and I know even if I want $100 for it I’m not going to get it. So sometimes you are just not in the ball park no matter what price it is.
Michael: I read one of those. I was laughing because I was on DNFCollege.com yesterday, the forum part, the college part of DNForum.com and I was reading through some of your examples on there. And I read about the one that offered you the reg fee and then decided to double the reg fee. And they had actually lapsed on their registration and they wanted to buy it back. I thought that was a funny story. So I’m going to get into how you find the people to contact. And I’m going to ask you what a professional broker does but let me ask you this first. In the emails that you are sending back to potential buyers, people are inquiring about your domain name and you are responding back to them how does your email address and your signature help the sales process?
Adam: Okay that is a good question. My signature is very professional. I sign it Adam Dicker and then under that it says CEO Domain Consulting Group Limited, then it has an address, then it has a phone number, a 1-800 number, and then I have a fax number and I have my Skype ID, and then I have my website (which in this case I’m selling a domain name is dcg.com) and it says SEO and Website specialist. That lets them know that they are dealing with somebody that knows what they are talking about and they are not going to pull a fast one so it scares away re-sellers right away.
Michael: And for those that are just entrepreneurs or in the business and want to buy a domain name they look at that and they say this guy has some credibility. You are basically establishing credibility with them through your signature that then causes them to maybe react differently to the counter offer that they may receive from you.
Adam: Definitely and chances are pretty good that they are going to Google me.
Michael: So having an online persona, an online LinkedIn account, or Google Plus account, or a website where they can go read about you helps in the negotiation as well because if they look at you as an authority in the topic (and clearly you are) they offer $2,000, you are countering at $60,000 they are going to attribute more credibility to your counter offer than might be otherwise the case.
Adam: Also don’t be afraid to include a link back to DNJournal.com showing them what current prices are and what domains are selling for because that will also set their expectations a little bit more realistic.
Michael: Alright Adam. We are over the hour point. Do you have enough time to stay on for a few more questions about professional brokers and effective negotiation tactics? You have been very generous with your time so far.
Adam: I do and there is a lot more that I have to cover.
Michael: I know. Again if people are watching this show and Adam has talked about a certain area or something about negotiations that you want to know more about get in the comments. Let us know what you want to know more about. And we will see if we can get Adam to come back and share some more strategies and tactics. So let’s talk about professional domain name brokers. People in the industry probably aren’t best friends with a professional domain name broker that they can call up and ask them how they do things. Most people that own domain names probably don’t even know professional domain name brokers. What does a professional domain name broker do on a daily basis?
Adam: This is going to get me going for another five minutes here. So I think people are going to appreciate this once I am done. These days every domainer thinks they are a domain broker. Domain brokers do not sell to other domainers. That is what I call a good contact list not a domain broker. So a true domain broker finds end users to sell to. And here is how they do it.
I have personally bought software I’m going to recommend here to help people sell domain names. Of course you can do this all manually without buying the software but it will save you weeks and weeks if you buy the software. I’m not getting any affiliate links on this so I am just recommending the software that I use. So at the very least you will need a piece of software called Whois Explorer. It will save you days of work and it’s only $49.95.
First I’ll give you the easiest way which is why they sell more generics than any other two word domains. So let’s take an example like witchcraft.com which I happen to own but don’t worry I don’t believe in it. I don’t practice it I just own the domain name. I bought it. I thought it was a good investment. So if you have access to Zone Files and Zone Files are files that contain every domain that was registered in let’s say a .com. That makes this a little bit easier. But for now most of you don’t have that so I’m going to send you somewhere where you can actually go find people for your generic domain names right away like a broker would. So you would go to a place called Zed, I forgot sorry I’m in Canada. ZFBot.com and see how many domains are registered with the word witchcraft and spells. When you do that you will find that 342 start with witchcraft and 341 end in witchcraft. Spells has 486 which start with spells and 1,500 that end in spells. Witch has 3,500 that start with witch and 10,000 that end in witch. And make sure you use the right witch, w-i-t-c-h. Now you can export those domains and now you have a list of 16,145 domains that relate to the premium domain witchcraft that you want to sell.
Michael: So I go to ZFBot.com and I can type in key words that tell me every single domain name that is currently registered in say the .com using those keywords. So if I have autoloans.com, or I have auto-loans.com and I want to sell that one I can go and do a search on ZFBot.com to look for any domain name that is registered with auto, automobile, auto loans.
Adam: Yes. Okay so you get that list of 16,145 and you take a program like Atomic Whois Explorer, you import those domain names and it will extract all the admin emails from those 16,145 domain names and then you now have a list of contacts that you can use to email. So then you need an email client. So you go after something by the same company called Atomic Whois Explorer and this is designed to search through the global Whois data base automate the process of extracting contact information, domain administration and website owners. You can use it to email out these 16,145 emails that you have just gotten and then you send them an email. Basically it’s called Atomic Email Studio and it has an unsubscribe link so it is good for all the canned spam and everything else that people do. And now you have been able to extract the…You have got your domain list, you have got the emails that are attached to those domain lists and now you are able to go an email them and get people that are interested using Atomic Email Studio. It is an all in application for sending mass email customers and they can subscribe and unsubscribe.
Michael: But I could go to Constant Contact if I have 200 Whois contacts, the email address and their domain name. I could go onto Constant Contact and input them in and create a list and write up my email and just send it out through them too and they would manage the unsubscribe for me as well. There are a lot of different email programs that you can use. Right?
Adam: You can use anything you want. There are just a lot of extra features in Atomic Email Studio. Like for instance if you wanted to type in what was your example – auto loans? You could type in auto loans, the two keywords, and it would search Seattle auto loans and it would search in Google for any company that had Seattle auto loans listed and would extract 1,000 or 2,000 or 10,000 results which would give you more companies you could contact to sell your domain or your local domainer or anything like that.
Michael: And that is the Atomic Whois Explorer, right that does the search and extracts the information?
Adam: Atomic Email Studio.
Michael: Atomic Email Studio will extract the information for you?
Adam: It will extract the information. The Whois Extractor just extracts from the Whois information from the domain list that you got earlier.
Michael: Okay so the Whois Explorer extracts the contact information from the URL and then the email program extracts what?
Adam: It extracts, based on terms that you input it will also extract from search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. And then they will email out the ones from both the web extractor as well as the ones that you extracted from Email Studio.
And then the last thing I’m going to give you is an example email that you would send. You would send an email simply saying:
My name is Adam Dicker, I am a Senior Broker at the Domain Consulting Group Ltd.
I am contacting you regarding witchcraft.com as I felt it could be an excellent addition to your online business. The seller is motivated to sell and I am happy to present any reasonable offers for consideration.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to your feedback.
And then you sign it with your name, your website and your phone number and your company name. And you make it as official as possible. And you will be surprised at how many tons of responses you do get back. Remember you are sending 16,000 emails out at a minimum you only need to get one back to sell the domain but you will probably get a handful saying how much and then you will be able to go from there. This is pretty much how seals.com was sold.
Michael: These people that you are emailing, most of which have no idea how much domain names are worth, so if they respond back and say how much it is only out of ignorance, do you respond back saying make me an offer? Or do you respond back with another email trying to educate them and giving them a link to the weekly sales at DNJournal.com?
Adam: Yes I would definitely try to educate them. You will be able to gauge – I mean if they just send the one line back saying how much then you would have to send them more information than just the price of $200,000 – $100,000 because they are going to tell you to go fly a kite will be the next response. So you need to educate them and make them understand that they can have whatever…it would be like 2,500 daily targeted visitors to their websites looking for witchcraft or related products. And if they are selling products related to crystals or related to anything else, those are customers that could potentially buy something and they can make revenue from them. So you want to put a little blurb in about how it could positively affect their business.
Michael: You threw out a data point right there. Most domain names owned by people probably don’t have very much traffic and you have said in the past you that you don’t want to provide that information because then if it is low it may reduce their price. Would you simply respond back to them saying this could increase your business? It is a brandable domain name. Here are some other domain names that have recently sold to give you an idea of what average sales prices are?
Adam: Well you can pretty much measure their traffic ahead of time and know that they probably don’t have much traffic. So in some cases it benefits you to include the traffic.
Michael: Okay but if the domain name has no traffic then you wouldn’t include it, or if it has low traffic – if it only receives 10 hits per day. If you are parking it and you know is that worth including?
Adam: No not really.
Michael: Now you have written this letter back to them as if you were a broker for a third party. But if they do a Whois lookup they say oh Adam Dicker owns this domain name. Doesn’t that sort of throw a monkey wrench into the system? That you are representing yourself?
Adam: No the question was how do brokers do it. You would do it more customized saying look we own this domain name – we have no current plans for it. Some people go as far as to say look they sent it out to 10 possible people and they say this domain is going up for auction. They set up the auction. They say here is a link if you are interested in bidding, go check out the auction. So there are a few different ways you can handle it.
Michael: Clearly you need to know what you are willing to take so a reasonable offer would be based on that. But if you are sending out an email you are probably thinking the domain name is worth at least a few thousand dollars otherwise it wouldn’t be worth your time.
Adam: Yes you want to get an initial offer close to 20% to 40% of your expected price for the domain. And this will give you plenty of room to get them higher, as a first offer is never usually their last offer.
Michael: How many times a week do you do this process? You go from you take a domain name that you are interested in selling, you go to ZFBot, you go to Whois Explorer, you go to your Email Studio and you blast out an email to try and sell a domain name that you own?
Adam: Personally I’ve done it a few times. I haven’t done it a lot. To be honest with you I am so busy with so many other different projects that I just don’t have time to do it all the time. I’ve done some testing with it with local domain names. I’ve done some testing with other domain names that aren’t high generic domain names, because typically those are harder to sell on a cold call. But a name for $1,000 – $500 – $200 – $300 those are fairly easy to sell going about it this way. It is pretty easy to get $500 for a domain name if you get somebody responding back.
Michael: Would you even go through this whole process for $500? Wouldn’t you try to get them up to $2,000 or somewhere around that area?
Adam: Ideally you want to get them up as high as you can but at the end of the day $500 is still good money. If you are looking to make $1,000 a day so you don’t have to work full time somewhere, you sell two domains a day doing this and you are laughing and you only paid $14 and you have made $1,000. And most people don’t need to make $1,000 a day. They would be happy with $500 a day.
Michael: How quickly do you respond? When you blast out an email and somebody responds back instantaneously how much do you want, do you wait or do you respond back in time.
Adam: It depends on the situation. I never really respond right away as it makes me seem too desperate to sell the domain. Half the fun is the chase like with anything else. And I already explained that I made and extra $100,000 on a domain sale because I didn’t respond or counter offer on that Thursday or Friday and I waited until Monday. So sometimes people out there will up their offer, they will increase their offer based on you waiting. And if you have got a live hot lead on a $500 to $1,000 domain name you don’t really need to wait a long time because they are not going to increase to $10,000. So in that case if it is a lower end domain name and you are just trying to get $500 to $1,000 or $1,500 I’d respond fairly quickly because…It reminds me of when people are in line and they want to buy something and they are ready and they are all hot and bothered and they want it right now they want to click the button, like the auctions they get caught up on it and they may close at a higher price just because they want to close and get the sale. Rather than giving them too much time thinking about it and then my wife leaves the store and she doesn’t want the item any more.
Michael: What do you use as the subject for an email that you send out saying good afternoon my name is Adam Dicker; I’m selling this domain name. What subject do you use? Do you put the domain name in there?
Adam: I usually tend to put their domain name in there as well. And then I say witchcraftforum.com and then I put dash and then opportunity. And then they will want to read more about it because it is addressing their own domain name. So something relating to something they already own. And then if you are only sending out to a select few you can personalize the email by getting the information off of the Whois extraction tool and getting their first name and last name and you can personalize the email. And then obviously if it is a higher sale you want to follow it up with a phone call.
Michael: Should a domain name investor that is sending out an email like this setup a “real” business on the web in order to give them more credibility as we discussed you have? You list your website you list your LinkedIn account and other things to establish that credibility?
Adam: It certainly doesn’t hurt to establish credibility. A proper email signature will give you instant credibility and it won’t look like you are a fly by night organization or even worse a spammer. So it is really important to have a proper email signature.
Michael: When you sell a domain name for $500 or $2,000 do you execute a purchase/sale agreement on each of those? Or do you just go directly to Escrow.com and wait for the money?
Adam: I’m pretty lucky. Most people (end users obviously don’t know who I am) but if I am dealing with a domainer I don’t go to Escrow. If I am doing it and it is only a $500 to $1,000 domain, that is not a lot of money to me, where to some people it is. I’ve had deals where I bought gardeners.ca and webdesigners.ca and I just said, they wanted to go to escrow and I said look I’ll tell you what. Give me your bank account information and they were in Canada. I’ll go to the bank, I’ll put the money in your account and then send me the code and then we will do the transfer. So it really depends on you but if they are a total stranger they may want to go to escrow and the price of the escrow transaction is minimal, it’s pennies for that. The only pain is you have to wait for time to get it done. I mean you are waiting for $500 or $1,000 so it is not such a big deal.
Michael: Let’s talk about some more negotiation. On one stream on DNFCollege.com you wrote about an exchange you had with a buyer of one of the domain names that was priced at $80,000. The buyer started off with $2,000. Was that the earlier case where you actually walked away and they came back and upped their price, and upped their price, and upped their price and by you waiting you actually got them to meet the price that you wanted?
Adam: Yes that was the Mega City stream. And it was I basically told them that we are not in the same ball park here. So go find another domain name. And you can’t be shy to do that because they have already expressed an interest that they want the domain name for whatever reason it is they want it. It could be something to do with their kid’s name. You don’t know what the reason is. But they have had an expression of interest. The hardest thing to get is an initial offer or an expression of interest. Once you have that you are in the driver’s seat. So at that point with the negotiation…I didn’t know I was in the driver’s seat, I paid $10,000 for it, I wasn’t going to sell it for $2,000. I knew I had to get the gentleman up and he did go up and it is an interesting stream to follow. And I post streams like that because it’s a really good education on the process that actually happens sometimes. And it shows people how much money they leave on the table by not knowing how to negotiate or how to handle sales.
Michael: So do I understand this correctly Adam that the entire reason you don’t make the first offer is because their first offer may be over the value that you want for the domain name? Is that the only reason?
Adam: I usually like to have them make the first offer just so I can see how serious they are. Now there are times where they will send me streams back and forth and then I will finally say okay here is the price because I don’t want to end the conversation or I want to know we are heading in the right direction. So I mean there are cases for both. Some people I know prefer, I know SEDO tells you to list your domains with fixed prices because they will sell more. Yes of course they will sell more but you are probably selling a lot cheaper than you should be selling. A lot of times domainers don’t know how to set pricing on domain names. They have bought domains and they are not sales people so they don’t know what it is really worth. They just know they paid $7 for it and they figure if they get $1,200 or $1,500 or $2,000 wow they have had a great day. But they don’t know how much money they left on the table. And we don’t have to look too far, to Facebook going out and buying F.com, or any of the other websites that have been bought recently – Even the one that was in the news recently Meet.Me. I mean that was a great sale. Nobody would have expected it and nobody would have had a clue.
They could have left a lot of money on the table but with Ammar and Schwartz and Berkens you are dealing with three smart people that understand to do what they can to not leave any money on the table and they got an excellent price for a domain that they would probably not get that price again for. It was a great deal for them.
Michael: How do you reconcile the story that you told us earlier about the gentleman who wanted $60,000 or $80,000 for the .net and the highest offer was $40,000 and the guy ended up losing out on the deal versus the Rick Schwartz, Berkens, Ammar story where they get hundreds of thousands for Meet.Me and that could have been the same case you never would have heard that story? How do you reconcile these two things?
Adam: You can’t. All you can go by is at the end of the day the Berkens group is happy and I’m happy. And we both got a good return on our investment, much more than we would have ever gotten on any stock without risk and a better return than we would have gotten with any bank. So I mean at the end of the day you have to be happy with what you sold it for or don’t sell it. And at the end of the day if you are happy with what you sold it for and the buyer is happy with what he paid for it it’s a win/win scenario.
Michael: Adam my final question is this: I belong to an email newsletter list of startup entrepreneurs in Seattle. Like clockwork every three to six months an email goes out to the list asking what to do with a small cache of domain names that the entrepreneur has acquired over the years when they had different bright ideas and they no longer want to pay the renewal fees for. I know it’s hard without knowing what domains they own but what general advice would you provide to somebody in this situation who has some domain names that they want to sell.
Adam: You would have to evaluate them like you would any potential purchase. And we didn’t get into that but I mean but again there are three or four different types of domains that people should be buying right now. The best domains in today’s market have to do with products, services, occupations and information sites. Like flatscreens.ca is a great domain for a product domain. Kansaslandscapers.com is a great service people research and buy and also make a great lead gen site. Alabamacivilattorney.com, I registered that yesterday. It was available. It is a good occupation domain, a good lead gen domain, registered yesterday so don’t tell me that there are no good .coms available. And then for informational sites I registered like goat.ca. It’s a good domain where people…everybody who goes to the doctor and goes home and they are told they have something the first thing they do is they jump on the computer. They figure all the symptoms that they are possibly going to get and then they convince themselves they are going to have them. And they do research on things that they are going to have. So if a domain doesn’t fit into a products, services, occupations or informational you are not going to make any money with it so there is no point considering domains like that unless you get lucky once in awhile. But if you are banking on getting rich in this industry on luck it is probably not going to happen.
Michael: So are you saying that all brandable domain names are luck?
Adam: No brandable is good. Brandable fits that category as well. I was thinking of a domain name (I’ve got to see what it was but) it was perfectlypressed.com. Great name for a cleaners or a laundry and it is brandable. So I mean there are a lot of cute names that are out there, so brandable names hold value as well. But products and services are the highest valued domains right now and they are priced accordingly.
Michael: I was at DomainFest a year ago. I met a lovely woman there who had some great brandable domain names like Justintimepizza.com. Who doesn’t want to receive their pizza, a 10 minute pizza or something like that? So for a person like that that isn’t getting any inquires right now you would say make sure they have a public Whois, get them listed on SEDO and Go Daddy and maybe reach out to some people using the tactics that you said ZFBot, the Whois Explorer, getting the email addresses and reaching out to other pizza companies in their market.
Adam: There is a feature that I added on to Go Daddy while I was there. It’s in the domain control center. You go to I think it is Exportable Reports and then you export a report and click a box that says Whois searches and it will give you a list of every time somebody went to the Go Daddy Whois box and typed in your exact domain name and searched for it. So that alone is good marketing material. If nobody is looking for the domain name (and it does it over the last three months or the current three months) if nobody has done a search for it in the last three months and you have had no offers on it chances are it is time to get rid of it. I mean a 10 second pizza, even though it sounds good or a 10 minute pizza, it is not very realistic. And I doubt that anybody is going to be able to deal with that.
Michael: Anything you want to say in closing Adam?
Adam: You know there is going to be a few things. I’m going to give you a couple of quick stories. And then we will close on that. I received an offer on pw.ca through SEDO at $1,288. And this was one of the first domains that I registered back in the ‘90s. And I really didn’t want to sell it. And my intent was to scare off the buyer. I responded with a counter offer of $60,000. Unfortunately they accepted that offer right away. And I knew that I left lots of money on the table and I did. My biggest mistake was not researching who the buyer was and could be and it cost me big money. The buyer turned out to be Price Waterhouse. Lesson learned.
Michael: And you could have figured that out by…sometimes when people offer through SEDO you don’t know who the buyer is.
Adam: Yes but you can go to an acronym finder and type in pw and it will give you a list of companies that begin with pw. And you can have a pretty good indication. Price Waterhouse was expanding into Canada. I mean I could have got a lot more than $60,000 for it but again I paid about $20 for the domain name. I could have got a lot more, I got a good return on my investment but it is not one that I am soon to forget.
The last, two other things, one is a tip and one is a story. You know I recently started a service DNF College where member email me on offer that they received and a minimum offer they are will to accept. So an example a domainer sends me abdc.com and says they want $1,000 for it. I take over the negotiations and sell the domain for $3,000. So my cut is 25% above what they would be happy with. So they end up with $2,500 on the domain that they wanted $1,000 on and I get $500. So it is a win/win scenario. So that is open to obviously anybody who is reading the video or watching the video.
Michael: You have got a million things going on. In the previous video we talked about your lead generation business, you have got other lead generations businesses going on, you are consulting and you have got your own portfolio. How do you have enough time to manage other people’s sales for $500 on your part?
Adam: You know what? When you love what you do, when you can help somebody out, when you can make that extra $500 and make that other person the extra $2,500 it just brings back the passion for the industry. It makes you feel good. You have accomplished something for somebody else. They are a lot happier and you know what you make time for things that are important. I’ve got people who design websites so I don’t need to do that. I’ve got people that develop websites so I don’t have to do that. So I can spend time on the stuff that makes money.
And then this is another point that I know we talked about, I saw you post in on DN Forum about it. And it is something that people aren’t doing that they should be doing that will add instant value to their premium domains or their regular domains. So for all your good domains register an email address and go get the Twitter and the Facebook name match. Your name matching your premium domain. It adds a great deal of value to your domain sale. You can go to Trademarkia.com and click social networks and then enter your term like DN Forum and hit search and it will check 100 social network sites and then it will tell you which ones are available and then you can go register them there or you can have Trademarkia.com go get them for you all at once. And it is extremely valuable to be able to sell a domain name like DN Forum with Facebook.com/DNForum or Twitter.com/DNForum.
And the last little bit, do you have any questions before we go on?
Michael: No. I was just going to say I personally would have paid more for DomainSherpa.com. I think I ended up paying $500 for the domain name. I would have gladly paid a couple of thousand of dollars or a few thousand dollars if I could have gotten the DomainSherpa Twitter handle and Facebook handle with them as well. I had looked at other domain names for DomainSherpa. I am much happier with DomainSherpa but I looked at other domain names but I evaluated some of them didn’t have the Twitter handle, some of them didn’t have the Facebook handle. I wanted everything to be simple and all to be my brand. And I would have paid for that.
Adam: That is what it is all about. And the branding is out there and now there is ways that you can post all of your RSS Feed, there are plug ins to directly post to Facebook so all of your stories go there. It’s good. The last question that I am usually asked is should domainers develop domains? Developed websites always sell for more than a park reg. So I recommend getting acquainted with Word Press, buying templates from StudioPress.com. You buy them once you own them forever. You can put them on thousands of sites. They don’t care. Word Press templates are easy to use, you can use them to build as many sites as you wish. We have a step by step guide at DNF College from how to install Word Press, to picking your theme, to which plug ins to use, all set up for free. All you have to do is sign up with DNF College and you are in. And if you don’t want to bother building them yourself my company DCG.com will build them for you with original articles and original content and all the plug ins for $199 apiece.
And then the last thing I’m going to say is anybody that took the time to listen to this video you can shoot me an email at Adam@dcg.com and I’ll get you a free DN Forum account so you can get set up. You don’t have to buy it. You can go in for free and we will set you up and like Michael said I make myself available for anybody that wants to learn about this great industry. So feel free to contact me in any of the following ways for tips and advice, tricks and anything else to do with domains. You can reach me at Adam@dcg.com, on Skype at Adam.Dicker, on my personal cell phone at 416-884-0535. You can search for me on Facebook under Adam Dicker or on the Twitter user name Adam Dicker.
Michael: Adam you are amazing. Not only do you come on here and share a lot of your information, your successful tactics for an hour and forty minutes but you offer people a free membership on DNForum.com. You know I am going to take the time now to urge the audience, as I always do, if you received value out of this interview — and man, and for an hour and 40 minutes Adam and I talked the details, the tactics you can use to go be successful. If you stuck with us until the end you will clearly receive value – if you are not a DNForum member you received value just form that. If you did, please go out of your way and find a way to say thank you to Adam. Post it in the comments, send him a Tweet, an email as he already said his email address. Remember, when you reach out and do something as easy as saying ‘thank you’, you establish a relationship – and that relationship that can become more meaningful for you later on. So I urge you guys to do that. I’m going to say thank you again right now by mentioning Adam’s websites: His websites are DNForum.com, DCG.com where you provide consulting services and – if you want to apply for DNF College and get mentored by Adam directly – you can go to DNFCollege.com.
Adam Dicker, thank you for being a Domain Sherpa and spending the time and doing this interview.
Adam: Thank you Michael. I really enjoyed it and sorry we ran on a little too long.
Michael: Oh not at all. People are going to love this. Again go down to the comments and let us know what you would like Adam to come back on the show and talk about and we will see if we can get him back in a few weeks to do that. Thank you all for watching. We will see you next time.
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