Find Out Who a Potential Buyer Is

For obvious reasons, I think it’s important to know who a buyer is when negotiating. Many buyers use various tactics to stay anonymous (like an email alias), but I want to share some methods I use to see who is inquiring about my domain names.

1) Research the domain name used in the email. While some companies disguise who they are, others do not. If the email isn’t from a free email service like Hotmail or Gmail, do a Google search for the domain name to see if it’s a company. You can also do a Whois search. Make sure the website doesn’t offer free vanity email addresses, which could throw you off.

2) Do a Google search from the person inquiring about the domain name. LinkedIn is a great place to learn about who is trying to buy a particular domain name. Oftentimes there is more than one person with that name, but you can narrow down the likelihood of who it is by the nature of the domain name they want to buy from you.

3) View the email headers to see the IP address. This is a good method when you’ve previously received inquiries on the same domain name. If the email was sent from the same IP (or IP range) as before, you can tell if the same person emailed you.

4) Ask for a phone number to discuss the domain name via phone. You can use the phone number to better track the person or company inquiring. Use to see if the number is listed there. If not, do a Google search for the phone number. If that fails, call the number either at an odd hour or from two lines at once to get the voicemail to see if that helps.

5) Do a Whois search on other extensions to see if that yields any clues.

6) Search the USPTO TESS database to see if any companies recently filed a trademark for the term in your domain name. This might give you an idea of who would want the domain name.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. Long story short: respond to the offer using *your* expert valuation of the domain’s worth, not based on who might be wanting it. If the offer comes from a lowballer, it won’t matter who they are.

  2. @ Shane

    True, but if the buyer really needs the name and the seller won’t negotiate via email, he’s gotta give his phone # and that will yield plenty of answers. IP address tracking is also possible, and if there’s any Gmail footprint, it’s easy to learn about a buyer.

  3. “View the email headers to see the IP address.”

    To add to that, use a registrar that allows you to see the IP address of anyone doing a whois on the domain name.

  4. @ACRO …..Don’t price based on the buyer? Are you really serious?

    That’s the worst advice regarding selling domains on the Internet I have ever heard in my 15 years Online.

    No wonder why you need to make money with sites instead of domains, you have a lot to learn. No offense, but that is absurdly bad advice.

    Great advice, Elliot!

  5. An additional step I take is to do an IP location lookup using their IP address. It can tell you where in the country the inquiry came from or if it came from another country.

  6. Mike – Your first name is so generic I don’t know who you are, so no offense: you’re an idiot for not realizing that even if you’re dealing with an Arab prince or a lowballer from Arkansas, you’re still going to get as much as you’re going to ask. If you ask for $5,000 for a domain, that’s the max you will get. Just because you know you’re dealing with a millionaire there is no warranty you will get $5,001. I’ve been around the block for almost 15 years now to know better.

  7. Mike – Forgot to mention that I’ve sold more than 1,250 domains, dumbass. So next time you don’t understand my piece of advice just move on instead of making moronic statements.

  8. The most valuable doxing tool there is is simply entering the email address into facebook. It brings up the associated profile.

    It’s good 80% of the time and tells you precisely who you’re dealing with. 19% of the time, Google takes up the slack.

    In that rare 1% of the time when you get contacted by someone about buying a domain name who has no visible online presence whatsoever, that itself is extremely valuable information since it implies you’re dealing with a very savvy party.

    Of course, keep in mind that what you see may not be what actually is…

    In my case, I have a few comprehensive secondary identities complete with facebook and linkedin profiles, blog posts, internet content, etc. So if I contact you as John Smith, go ahead. Google away, Mr. Internet Detective. Here’s old John’s facebook profile where I’m a low level network engineer from New Jersey who listens to Radiohead and digs Jazz… unless, of course, I need to be Dave Smith, the CFO of an upstart tech company with two kids and an avid handball player. Or Rob Smith, the Diesel Engine mechanic in California who golfs on the weekend, when he’s not up in the mountains panning for gold.

    Manipulating and managing information (and disinformation) is the Colt Peacemaker of the 21st Century. Learn how the game goes, or walk around unarmed. Most of you seem VERY unarmed.

  9. Addition:

    6. Search the “buyers” name on LinkedIn. Sometimes they may be using a gmail/hotmail account, but still use their real name. I’ve had a VP of a large public company contact me using a free email, but used their real name, making it easy to identify who they were representing.

  10. Very smart… however, if I won’t accept a penny less than $10,000 for my domain name, it doesn’t matter who you are

    Right. If you won’t accept a penny less than $10,000, it doesn’t matter who I am… However, if I am Intel, my sole objective is ensuring that your $10,000 baseline figure stays put. If you know who I am, then “I won’t take a penny less than $10K” suddenly becomes “Eh, I’m thinking 100K.”

  11. Last time when I digged out that enduser is a company I asked 5 figure and we completed the deal. Always try to find who is enduser, if it doesn’t success probably it is a domainer who want to stay anonymous. There is more tricks than you described here, one of them is a initial offer, for example if I feel it is too low then I usually counter offer with high price. If I see it is serious offer then I also try to be more serious and ask near market price. So the moral is: do the deals with serious endusers and reply high offers to lowerball ones.

  12. Good post Elliot.

    Not sure why anyone is busting on Theo about domain sales prowess, anyone who has sold the number he has knows what they are doing.

    The biggest point is exactly what Elliot said if I want $10,000 its $10,000. And to be honest even if you are Intel it should be $10,000. If the name was worth $100,000 Elliot would be pricing it there. Of course there always outlier sales where someone gets lucky and gets the big sale because a company really needs the domain, most of the time they have other options for the domain. Either you are running a business or buying lottery tickets that get renewed.

  13. “Of course there always outlier sales where someone gets lucky and gets the big sale because a company really needs the domain, most of the time they have other options for the domain.”

    . . . which if correct would mean that folks like Rick S. are just “lucky” to get more than his share of outliers. That, or Rick’s real, real good at getting much more than most everyone else thinks the domains he sells are worth.

    Anyone familiar with Rick’s sales knows the answer to that.

    It’s perfectly fine to quote prices (I normally use ranges); doing so will move more inventory.

    But for top dollar on fewer sales, better to find out who the buyer is . . . and negotiate the moon.

  14. I always sell my names for a price I am happy with so I don’t care if a big corporation buys a name and I find out later. I don’t sell cheep and hold most of my names.

  15. Ahhhh… a comment from Mikey!

    And I go with Acro on this one — it doesn’t matter who the buyer is, period. They’ll pay what they want to pay. I’ve had companies offer me $50,000 for a domain, only to write back a week later saying they found an OOTB domain, which turned out to be a domain that their advertising agency recommended, because what ad agency wants their client too own a domain that would eliminate 50% of the ad agency charges for “building an online campaign”?

    A good domain name removes that “service” from the ad agency, and THAT, my friends, is the biggest roadblock for all domain investors in selling their domains for their best value. Ad agencies are the domain investor’s worst enemy.

  16. garbage article…. instead of messing around with finding out who the person is, give them a price and the negotiate. If they wont pay what you want, end the conversation. Simple.


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