Labeled as sales in Domain Industry News started by News, Apr 28, 2019.
Great interview! Thanks for sharing. Man I wish I had half of Brian Harbin's work ethic.
Great show, Brian. I had no clue you went to the University of Georgia. Go Dawgs!
Thank you, as always, Andrew.
Salesmen can come across as all about the money, but you conveyed a relationships-first mentality, IMO.
Kudos, Mr. Harbin!
It's an inspiring interview and great story for sure.
But if you actually listened to the interview there weren't many actionable tips. I guess my main takeaway is that he really hustled and was willing to do small deals to build up his network. If your plan is to be a broker, then that is definitely a great way to make it.
Thanks for the kind words. I have learned so much from so many of you in this industry, so I feel like I am merely standing on the shoulders of giants. I'm grateful for platforms and opportunities that allow us to connect and learn from each other, so hopefully we can help the new/next generation of people coming into this industry.
I'm happy to provide some actionable tips. @barman , anything specific that would be helpful to hear?
OK I'll bite.
I want to gear these questions to end-user outbounding, not selling names to other investors.
- What's your success rate outbounding? How many people do you have to contact before 1) getting a response 2) getting a sale.
- Do you have any specific strategies for outbounding on Linkedin?
- What do your cold emails and cold messaging look like?
- Who are the people you try to contact? (Positions, etc)
- How many of your sales come from straight up cold messaging vs tapping into your network of people you've contacted or sold to before?
- Obviously the better the name, the easier it is. Are there different strategies for outbounding a name in the 1-5k range vs 15-25k range?
Gain from a lifelong salesman. It is safe to say that you are a decent sales rep? It's something I've generally battled with, however regardless of what your activity is, deals is a piece of it.
@barman , here's my answers to your questions:
Outbound is tough for sure, even with great domains. A better domain typically has more potential leads, but better domains also require more research for leads and contact info, more outbound calls and emails, more education on pricing, and more follow up (and sellers are typically less flexible on pricing). I can at least get a response from the vast majority of prospects assuming the emails/information I'm tracking down are valid. The key to getting a response is follow up (and the body of the email which I will answer below). I set a reminder for every 3 days, and I send 4 emails (all with tracking of course). I prefer not sending outbound emails on Mondays as they tend to get buried or delayed in the prospect's inbox. Or at least wait until late Monday night so their inbox can get caught up from the weekend. And same for Fridays unless it's early morning.
It's hard to put a number on stats of success rate of cold emails turning into sales but probably 1-3% success rate. But again, the key is follow up and having a good system of staying on top of it (snooze on gmail, pipedrive, etc). The bigger and better the prospect the more ways I will try and at least elicit a response from someone. This might sound obvious, but it's a very important part of the process. Not all prospects are equal from that standpoint.
For linkedin, I go for the top dogs (founder or ceo preferred, but maybe cmo, cto, or head counsel). I might even message all 3-4 key people within minutes of each other so I can try and penetrate through to someone if I'm not getting responses elsewhere. The success rate of getting a response is still relatively low. You for sure need to have a professional linkedin account if you want them to take you seriously.
Cold emails and linkedin messages all look like this:
subject line: domain.com for sale
The domain in the subject line is for sale. Let me know if interested.
Sales is like fishing. You have to set the hook before you start reeling them in. I get salespeople spam everyday on linkedin and daily emails with sales pitches. Almost EVERY single salesperson goes right into their pitch (i.e reeling) with 3-4 paragraphs on why I should hire them or pay for their services. If it's longer than sentence or two, then I delete. It's because they didn't set the hook and grab my attention with a need. And I can almost guarantee that every major decision maker does the same. You have to peak their interest quickly and succinctly. Almost every response I get from my outbound email (or 'hook') is: "i'll bite, how much" or "how much?" Then you can have your pitch email ready to send (which starts the "reeling"). But you can't start pitching ("reeling") until they have at least taken the bait or expressed interest.
Again, I prefer going for the top dog in the company the majority of the time. If you get their buy-in, then they can disseminate the information to whoever needs to approve it at that point. They are the top dog for a reason, and they like for major decisions like this to be 'their idea' so they can get the credit. Egos in big companies are way more important than most people realize so use that information to your advantage. You don't want an underling to present the idea, get the credit, and potentially mess up the hierarchy (i.e. their bosses' ego or job security) which can squash even the most brilliant ideas.
About 20% of my deals come from straight cold calling to sell a domain. It's the hardest type of domain sale to make (and the reason few brokers do it consistently), but the most valuable since so few people are able to do it successfully. Having a good mix of inbound, buy requests, working warm market, etc helps keep the deal flow consistent.
The benefit of a lower priced domain you are selling is that there are typically fewer decision makers in that size company and a better chance of getting them on the phone. A higher priced domain usually requires a larger sized company which is harder to find and talk to the decision maker. So with a lower priced domain, use the phone or hire someone that can help with that part. This is a great place to start for outbound (in the $1k-$5k range) to start getting in some practice. Help companies drop the 'the' or find a domain that should be a no-brainer for them to want to upgrade.
Quick story to wrap up: There is a NY Times best selling author that I saw recently launched a company. I saw his domain started with 'the' so I checked that the owner (of the same domain minus the 'the') might be open to selling, and I then reached out to the author. I tracked down his cell phone and sent a text. Even though he was on vacation with his family, he immediately texted me back "yes, i'm interested in that domain." We spoke on the phone the next week and secured the domain for him. It was a relatively small purchase, but he has already sent me 4 leads to his friends and clients. I am now his 'guy.' So maybe instead of going out and buying domains, help people upgrade their domains, charge a minimal and reasonable fee that is transparent, and you can start to build a network of people that use you to help with domain acquisitions. It's a way to make money in this business with no investment of funds on your part and only an investment of your time. Less risk since you aren't taking on debt by buying domains you aren't sure someone will want to eventually buy. I think the future of domains involves at least one or two brokers on every major domain purchase. So start building a network now. As W. Clements Stone says "Little hinges swing big doors", meaning that focusing on the little habits makes the biggest difference in the long run.
Hope that helps!
Amazing post Brian, thanks!!
What dollar amount do you think is reasonable to charge someone for helping them upgrade domain names?
Also, before contacting the person who needs to upgrade you make sure the owner of the upgrade domain is willing to sell, correct? If so, do you get a price from that person or do you see what the one that needs to upgrade is willing to spend?
@jstenn13 In that situation, my fee is $250 or 10% whichever is greater, but I was willing to do for less early on.
And yes, even if the owner of the upgrade domain is willing to sell, then you still should get a ballpark on price. I even research 2 or 3 other domains that could be even better (and typically more expensive) just so the buyer can have a choice of 3 domains. Sometimes they want the fully upgraded name, but they usually go for the least expensive. It at least gives them options and also shows that better domains are more expensive (and plants the seed that one day I might help them acquire the best domain for their brand!)
@Brian Harbin Great tips and advice, I appreciate it!
10 percent is low for illiquid domains, if this is a totally transparent thing,
And how do you complete the transfer? You buy from the seller and sell to the buyer? Or do you use an Escrow service? How do you make sure you get the credit in that case (you get it from buyer at the end? ) ?
What if the buyer bypasses the broker and directly buy from the seller (via marketplace , or a diferent broker etc.) I think getting signatures Ids etc would be boring and time consuming and require trust. I would prefer something similar to Sedo's escrow service.
re: @topdom - escrow.com and set up as the broker. In this case I didn't have a contract in place so there was the chance he could have gone around me. The price point was low enough it was worth the risk (to save time and additional steps), and if he had gone around me, then I just wouldn't make the effort to work with them again in the future. You can use Sedo escrow service but there is a 15-20% additional fee you have to factor in. But again, my example was just one way out of a thousand on how you can make money in this business with little to no investment except for time. Each person develops their own style and methods, and I'm sure you operate in the way that makes the most sense for your situation.
And how do you split funds at Escrow.com, is this possible ?
Between brokers? Yes, it's possible. There is a simple extra step but they can walk you through it
Thanks @Brian Harbin for the great advice
If he will not launch another company in the future, why will he need another domain?
Once you reveal the domain name, buyer can easily bypass the middleman. If you keep the domain name secret, nobody will be interested to buy an unknown thing. Escrow does not seem working.
Buyer and seller can always bypass the broker unless the broker knows the buyer or seller in person or has a contract with any of them, most likely with the seller/owner. Because the broker does not need to reveal who is the buyer to the seller until his commission is paid by the seller. It may be possible to get commission from buyer+seller if the contract (verbal or written) with the seller does not restrict doing it. Sales commissions are rarely paid by buyers. This is a general thing not only for domain industry. For instance if you sell insurance your commission is paid only by the insurance company (seller). Buyer does not pay commission directly in most industries, possibly with the only one exception in real estate. I do know this fact well as I am webmaster with some websites and work for variety of CPA networks (amazon affiliate program is the most famous CPA ad network) which pay commission for the online sales, leads or other forms of conversions generated on my websites. Buyers do not pay me commission directly. Why will they pay when they buy domain unless they clearly hire a broker?
There must be a notion of brokered sales which happen between 4 parties (someone should build such a system). How this will work:
-ME (seller) : fixed
-Some well known escrow service (Sedo or Afternic) ) fixed
-Broker-middleman (anyone or someone I accept as broker for some domain)
-Potential buyer (endusers)
I plan to sell the domain for 1000, but to accelerate this process I may accept less.
I allow some people to work as broker for me, and we inform Sedo about it.
Broker types my domain into a form at Sedo and gets a coupon which would be valid for
a short period of time.
Potential buyers can check that, that domain is listed for a fixed price: 1000 USD.
My broker gives that coupon to potential buyers. When that coupon is entered,
price becomes 900. If sold this way , it looks like the domain was sold for 800 without broker
from my perspective.
100 USD goes directly to broker, and Sedo handles it. The rest is usual transfer
between buyer and seller via Sedo. Sedo takes 15 percent commission out of 800
and the rest is mine.
referrals via tracking/cookies would be not trustable and not reliable.
But noone can can cheat in coupon method.
(Can Sedo claim coupon was used although it was not?: unlikely)
Everyone would think they are getting good deals in this scenario.
More sales, more profits for everyone: buyer, seller, sedo, broker.
Also brokers wouldn't try to buy from sellers cheap to sell to endusers
after multiplying the price by 100, because there would be a safe
and time saving way of making profit without taking a risk.
I mean such a scenario would be avoided:
Domain is worth 1000 but it has potential to sell for 10,000 after some outbounding effort,
but I don't like outbounding, or I'm not good at it. Normally it has
0.1 percent of selling if there is no outbound effort.
Broker sees the same potential (10K to the right buyer if approached correctly),
but doesn't want to take any risk. I prefer to sell in the first year, so I can drop the price significantly
The broker shows up at Sedo and doesn't go beyond 150 leaving me with 2 figure profit at most
if I accept it. If I don't accept it, endusers are sleeping and I can't reach them, and I can't sell it
in the firrst year, so I have to renew or drop it. But there are 1000 domains in the same situation, why renew that one and not the other one. So renew all or drop all seem to have equal chance of success.
Thinking about it I accept 150 USD offer. But the broker can't sell it to endusers either. This is one bad scenario. Or I could sell for 1000 but because of that broker I can't. So someone may lose
or has to take risk. But if things happen as I described above, fair prices can be realized.
Domain can sell for 1K or 10K, and my and broker's and Sedo's profit , and buyers' discount would be proportional, and there is no conflict of interest.
How can it be bad for me: Brokers work directly for Hugedomains, and they don't drop any names, because they sell all, and I can't handreg good domains.
If there is an easy way to profit, everyone jumps on it, and there is no easy profit anymore.
Thank you @Brian Harbin
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