Domain 1 hand registered, paid $7 bucks: sold for $400,000
Domain 2 purchased for a few thousand dollars: sold for $125,000
Domain 3 purchased for $47,000: sold for $115,000
Here's my check for the $125K sale. Not that my tips below need validation...just thought some might want to see some proof :-)
I haven't signed an NDA for any of these domains, however, my personal agreement with the buyers was that I shouldn't reveal the selling price. Anyways, the point of this post is to give some tips and pointers that might help reeling in that "big fish" domain sale.
No matter what tips, strategies and secrets are used, one thing's for sure - If you don't have a solid domain, you won't be able to sell it. Period.
That said, if you have some decent domain names generally you'll get some interested parties from time to time. Here are some tips that may help you maximize your selling price when someone emails you first.
1) Whenever you receive an offer to sell your domain, try and reply back as soon as possible after you've done some necessary background research on the potential buyer.
What you should do is the following. Let's say your domain name is widget123.com and the person emailing you to buy your domain is Johnny Cash. Here are the exact steps I do (this step can take anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour):
a) Do separate searches in Google for "widget 123" and "widget123" and see what comes up. Sometimes you'll notice some other sites listed that are either the .net version or a combination of widget123 + another word ie. widget123.net, widget123pro.com, buywidget123.com,etc. I'll then quickly visit some of those top listed sites for that keyword search. Sometimes you can get a good idea if there is some buzz or increased demand around that keyword and hence, the reason for that person's offer to purchase.
b) Do separate searches in Google for "Johnny Cash" + "widget 123" and "Johnny Cash" + "widget123". This search will reveal if Johnny has some existing projects related to "widget 123" and if so you'll get an idea of how big his company is.
Note: The usage of quotes should be used as well when performing the searches in Google. It's very important to use quotes as it helps get the exact matches for each term/person you're search.
c) Do separate searches in Google for "Johnny Cash" + "domain name", "Johnny Cash" + "domains", "Johnny Cash" + "domainer". This may reveal other domain names Johnny owns and can also reveal if he's simply a domainer looking to buy your domain for cheap and flip it to an end-user (an actual company that has direct use of the domain in question)
d) Do separate searches for their email address in Google as well. So "firstname.lastname@example.org" + "widget123", "email@example.com" + "widget 123", "firstname.lastname@example.org" + "domain name", etc. The reason for this is because sometimes people don't use their real name when offering to buy your domains. You'll be surprised how much info you can gather by just searching someones email address.
From doing the following searches above you can get a good idea whether or not Johnny is established in the "widget 123" industry or whether he really is just starting out and might not have the cash for a big purchase.
So depending on what you find, your reply message will vary.
2) Next we reply back to Johnny and either give him a counter offer (if he previously sent in an offer in his initial email) or your price for widget123.com.
Make sure the email is short, concise and to the point. The main message conveyed should be that there might be some interest in selling despite your big plans for the domain. One thing I usually say is, "well our company has big plans to develop this domain into an authority/social networking/shopping site on Widget 123 but we may consider selling the domain for $xxxx". Don't use all 3 types of sites..those are just examples.
if you're feeling like over achieving this is what I'd like to do - I will say something along the lines of: "well actually it's funny you emailed me because we're currently just finishing up the design of the website http://widget123.com/mockupdesign. We had big plans to develop widget123.com but we may consider selling it for $xxxx".
Ok so that might be a bit of a white lie right? Well, I won't try and defend it otherwise. If you're not comfortable saying that then don't. But if you are then the next step is for you to get a quick mockup done for the domain name or at least a nice looking logo you can slap on wordpress or another turnkey website cms or script. Basically you want to do this for a couple of reasons: One, to show the prospective buyer you already have invested some time/money in developing the site and two, to give them a "taste" of how great the site can possibly look.
Remember to do this strategy, the numbers need to work. If they offered you $50 bucks for widget123.com then it's a given that they won't pay anywhere near several hundred to a few thousand. So there's no point in using this strategy because the cost to get the site develop will easily top their budget for buying the domain.
But if their offer was several hundred to a few thousand dollars then the idea of developing a quick site will most likely pay off. It's very important to note that if you plan to say you're currently developing the site, you should actually have that logo or mockup done before emailing them your initial offer or counter offer.
The effectiveness of this strategy just isn't there if you just say you're having it developed. At least have something to show them and make sure it's professional looking. You can easily go to elance.com, scriptlance.com, odesk.com, etc. to get a quick mockup for the design of your site.
Another great option is to go to a design crowdsourcing site such as 99designs.com and have dozens of designers create mockups for you. (this is a bit more advanced, takes more time and money but for a domain you're looking to sell for at least 5 figures, it can pay off big time).
Ok so by now you've at least emailed them back with your counter offer telling them "we might have interest" in selling. I've had great success by using that exact wording because it makes it appear you're not totally dead-set on selling the domain. The wording is very important and you should try and always use "we" rather than "I". This is because a bigger company rather than a one person operation can and will usually demand more for a domain name.
3) So now you sit back and wait for their reply. Usually they counter with a much lower price. That's just how the game works. After receiving their reply what I usually do is wait a few days and let that offer bask in the back of my mind. Or you can continue to do more research or even continue to actually develop the domain into a nice looking site.
Then after a couple days or several I email them back with a counter offer. Of course if their price is something you're willing to sell for by all means sell it. But chances are they are expecting another counter offer so might as well give it to them and make more money too.
I would recommend going much higher than their counter at this point. For example, let's say Johnny initially offered you $1,000 for your widget123.com. Then you countered at $5,000 along with the message that your company is currently developing the site. Then they reply and counter offer at $1,500. Your next price should be $3,000 and $4,000 which is at least double what they are offering.
The counter offer should be something along the lines of "thanks for your offer, however, as mentioned we're already developing the site and have spent a considerable amount of time and money so far. If we continue to develop the site and start promoting it, I'm certain it will start getting traffic and start making money. At that time we may not be interested in selling. That said, we would seriously consider selling the domain plus all current website development right now for $4,000 or just the domain name for $3,000".
4) Now you just sit back and wait for their reply. Chances are most buyers will opt for the lower price without the existing designs and/or development work. But the fact that you offered them 2 prices will put them in a different mindset than if you simply countered with the single $3,000 offer.
Again you need to remember that this strategy will only work if the numbers work. In addition to the 3 big fish domain sales I had, I've made dozens of 5 figure domain name sales and can attribute this sole strategy for the high priced sales.
Also note this strategy involves being a "passive" domain name seller. This means you're not actively seeking out potential buyers. Seeking out potential buyers is a whole other ballgame with different strategies, tools, and techniques. I usually don't go that route, however, I have in the past and was able to successfully sell a few domains for 5 figures.
I guess we can leave that for my ebook and thousand dollar domain selling course ;-) Kiddin of course. But if there's interest I may write up another post or create a free report on that topic or elaborate further on the strategies above.
If you have any questions other than "What were the domains you sold?" I'd most likely be willing to answer them. Though I don't spend too much time on the warriorforum, I'm attempting to change that.