Working With Domain Brokers - Part 2

Working With Domain Brokers - Part 2

I’ve recently engaged a number of domain brokers to assist me with the sale of a few domains. The first thing I said to them was, “What do you think the domains are worth?” Despite my years in the industry I am unlikely to know what the “sales” market is saying right now. I’m a domain traffic specialist, not a full-time sales broker.

What I’d done is bypass the question of, “What I think the domains are worth” and jumped straight to getting the professional advice. In many respects, I’m an ideal broker customer. I want their advice and I will then accept it…..so the domains are priced to sell!

Escrow.com

I’ve received a number of offers for my domains from the brokers and they all seem to be asking whether I want to sell. In my opinion, this is a little silly. The reason why I engaged the brokers is to GET their advice. What I would like to see is an email which says, “Here’s the offers Michael, based on my experience and current market comparables I recommend that you accept.”

What I’m really saying is, “How the heck do I know whether I should sell or not?” I want the broker to provide me with their professional recommendation. Once I have this recommendation my reply would be, “Done! Let’s go through the escrow process.”

This brings me to a VERY important point. I personally would only use Escrow.com for escrow services with domain brokers…the reason being is that I know they are completely legal and regularly audited by governmental agencies. Yes, I know they’re a regular sponsor of my blog but I would only allow sponsors that I’m happy to recommend. Using an escrow service is particularly important when you have no idea who the buyer is.

Once a transaction is completed some really stupid domainers go and research the buyer and then offer additional domains to them. Their whole goal is to cut the broker out of subsequent deals and save the commission fee. This is the most idiotic behaviour I’ve ever heard of!

Let’s unpack this…..the domainer is placing no value on the broker’s professional advice. Despite the broker having a network of potentially thousands of buyers the domainer is placing all of their eggs in a single buyer’s basket. The broker has no incentive to ever work with the domainer again.

I can’t say this for a fact but I wouldn’t be surprised if brokers talk and warn each other of working with certain domainers that try this practice on. Whatever you do….don’t try and go around your broker. They play an important part in the domain ecosystem and you’ll ultimately end up by eroding both your reputation and your ability to sell your assets.

Forget all of the above reasons for not going around your broker and just consider this simple statement. This type of behaviour is what is known as, "acting in bad faith". In other words, it's conduct that you really shouldn't be associated with and is likely to really damage your reputation as a domain investor.

I wish all of the brokers and domain sellers the best of luck with the sale of their domain portfolios. Feel free to leave a few comments below of your own experiences with selling your domains. I should also mention, that I DO NOT broker domains for anyone so please don’t ask me to do so.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

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Working With Domain Brokers - Part 1

Working With Domain Brokers - Part 1

When you really think about it, professional domain brokers have one of the most difficult jobs in the world. They have to manage both a domain owner’s and a potential buyer’s expectations and walk a tightrope whether they get paid or not. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the brokering industry and thought that it was about time I wrote an article or two on the topic.

Domainers, engage the services of a domain broker because they want a domain(s) sold. The reason they do this is that to date they have not been able to sell their domain at their anticipated price point. They then pass their domains to a broker in the hope that by engaging the services of a professional they will succeed in attaining a great big windfall.

Escrow.com

So what’s the first thing that a domainer does? They tell the professional what their domain is worth. How stupid is that???? The reason why they’ve just engaged a broker is to get their professional advice on the value of the domain. A good broker is a person that should have the pulse of the market….not the domain investor that has, to date, fundamentally failed to sell their asset.

Here’s the difficulty for the broker. In most cases, the domain is worth precisely what someone is prepared to pay for it. Sure, they can guesstimate, but a more professional broker will more often than not say they need to do some research on the sale price. What they are really saying is I need to make some calls, rustle a few bushes and see what falls out. This makes perfect sense to me.

More often than not, the domain owner has completely unrealistic expectations on the price. If you ask 99% of domain owners for a valuation of one of their domains they will ultimately guess. There’s no science or numbers behind what they want….they just want it. That’s all very well but what they want for the domain and what the market is prepared to pay are two entirely different things.

For example, you may want to sell one of your domains for millions of dollars but if the market is telling you it’s worth $10K then you really need to revaluate at your expectations.

The problem arises when the broker looks at what the market is telling them and then the often crazy number that the domainer wants for their domain. If the numbers are way apart then the broker knows they will never sell the domain and make their commission….so why bother starting.

If the numbers are closer together then the sale is more likely to happen and the broker can either do a quick sale or try to push things upwards. They are now wrestling with maximising value rather than whether they will put food on the table.

For example, let’s imagine that a domainer values their domain at $100K (ie. the reserve price) and the broker values it at $20K. Put yourself in the broker’s shoes for a second…..deep down they know that it will be highly unlikely if they are able to meet the seller’s price…..so why would the broker waste their time? On the other hand, if the reserve was $20K then the broker is now working towards a $30K+ sale value to move the domain on and maximise their commission.

What I don’t understand is the number of brokers that are still doing deals where they only receive a commission on the sale of a domain…..this is what I would do if I was a broker.

I would say to the seller something like, for every $1,000 that we are apart on the domain valuation you need to pay me a retainer of $10/month in advance. If we look at the above example this means the seller can either reappraise their $100K reserve or reduce it to the broker’s valuation. If the seller refuses to budge then they need to pay $800/month for the broker’s time.

What this model does is:

1.      Pay the broker for their time attempting to sell at unrealistic prices.

2.      Incentivise the seller to reduce their expectations in line with the market.

3.      Ultimately start to increase the liquidity of domains as more are sold.

We can argue about the price points and whether it should be $10/month/$1000 or some other figure but the model seems to stack up pretty well.

In the next article in this series I’m going to share some of my own experiences with engaging the services of a broker and also some of the stupid practices of sellers.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

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