My Thoughts on Phone Negotiations

I have never really enjoyed chatting on the phone. This sometimes goes for chatting with friends, but it almost always pertains to domain name negotiations. There are some times when a phone conversation can be fruitful though, and I thought I would share some thoughts on phone negotiations.

When I want to inquire about a domain name as a buyer, I will usually send an email and follow up with a phone call if it could be fruitful. For instance, if the domain owner seems willing to sell the domain name and we need to come to terms on the price, I might give a phone call. Some people will brush off my call and stick to email, but others are more chatty, and we can finalize a deal quickly. I like the fact the I can speed up a discussion rather than extend it hours or days with email.

When someone randomly calls me to discuss a domain name, if I take the call, I will generally tell the person to follow up with an email. I want to have all of the information in front of me when discussing a domain name, and I think the other person is in a better negotiating situation if they’ve called me unexpectedly. Generally speaking, when I receive a call from a number I don’t recognize, I won’t answer it and will wait for the voicemail to determine my next step.

If I can’t get in touch via email with someone who inquired about a domain name, I might follow up with a phone call. This is usually reserved for inquiries from companies or people that I believe have a good chance of being able to buy the domain name. If someone appears to be a tire kicker (ie offered $10 for, I won’t call to save my time and level of frustration. These calls can be difficult because I often have a very different sense of the market value of a domain name than someone who wants to buy it, and I would rather avoid a contentious conversation.

I know that some people have a separate phone number for domain inquiries, and this makes sense for inbound inquiries. I also think it’s important to use a non-home phone number on Whois listings to avoid phone calls at strange hours. There have been times I have called someone early in the morning or later in the evening only to realize they live in a very different timezone.

I  think phone calls can be good opportunities to learn about the other party, and they can go a long way to establishing trust. When I am speaking with someone interesting, I tend to be chatty, and having a good conversation can be  helpful in establishing trust. That being said, when it comes to negotiating the sale of my domain name, establishing trust is secondary to establishing a price. Until  we can figure out a mutually agreeable price, I am less concerned about trust, especially when the deal would go through anyway.

What are your thoughts about using the phone to negotiate?

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. After over 15 years of selling domains, I am not still not sure which is better for closing a domain sale, phone calls or emails. I hate phone calls. Not because I don’t think they are the best way to sell a domain, I have no idea, I just like email much better. As Elliot said, I like being prepared and researching things ahead of time, plus it is much easier for me to ask for a higher price by email (I am not a good negotiator in person).

    My hate for phone calls, meetings, and any in-person interaction has nothing to do with domain name sales in particular. For example, in my voice mail message, I basically tell people don’t bother leaving a message for me to call you back, either email me or leave your email address and I will email back to you.

    – Eric

  2. Although domain bloggers have always talked about how important it is to pick up the phone when you’re a domainer, I’ve never done this for two reasons:

    – I don’t feel comfortable calling people out of the blue because many could feel like their time was wasted and get bothered. Then I wouldn’t be in a great position to market my domain, especially as a shy person.

    – When dealing via email, you have the time to think about all the details you want to add and fine tune your words.

  3. Sometimes it is impossible to reach a potential buyer via email. If you do, many times the person reading the email is a dead end = not a person that can make a decision. Many times the right person in such company doesn’t even know that the seller have attempted to reach the company for a potential sale.

  4. I use the phone to help a customer accept a domain push, help with payment etc… but I keep all negotiations in email and I save the emails. An email record eliminates possible he said/she said. Put it in writing so the negotiations/contract are on record and can be referred to later if needed.

  5. I have spoken to potential buyers on the phone and vIA e-mail -phone is great to really get to know a person – email is also good for reasons already stated – if buyet wants to speak via phone I have no problem

  6. I also like to have all the info before negotiating, selling on the phone is problematic as you have no way to find out more about the buyer and their needs, plans and budgets.
    I do like phone calls in general though, just gotta end it at the right time, so it doesn’t last longer than it should, and use it to get a quick reaction on your offers.

  7. Elliot, I have a different view. I am not a seller of domains, so I cannot opine. I have bought over 4,000 domains in my career. I personally like to talk to the seller and always give my name, personal email and phone number to encourage communication. I am serious buyer and do not want to waste my or their time. I have made great friends from people I have bought domains. Just my style.

    Merry Christmas, Bill Mac

  8. I still feel the same was as when we touched upon this a while ago here. Don’t like phone for anything involving domains, either calling or receiving. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Although I’m mostly not a seller similar to Bill here, I do have a big bunch of the “make offer” kind of listings posted somewhere just in case and would like to make a few nice sales. Usually any buy inquiries I get seem to come in out of the blue so to speak, usually by email. Occasionally I get calls, however on the company voice mail line. The worst thing about those calls is that even though they sound very sincere and very interested, for some reason it seems those who have left messages have never once followed up with email to the whois contact after I never return any of the calls. It’s like – hello? Maybe some people hate email that much. The domains I’ve gotten voicemails for are really desirable ones, however, so it’s surprising they wouldn’t follow up by email after not getting a return call.

  9. Not using the phone is unprofessional, regardless of your rationale.

    To all. The last time you bought a smartphone… did you speak to anybody?


  10. geoffrey – That is a silly analogy. I consider “talking” by email the same as speaking to somebody, at least in most cases. 99% of people buy smartphones in a phone store because almost everybody lives within a few minutes of one, it is easy to return it, your old phone number and contacts need to be transferred to it, you need to trade in your old phone, etc.

    But, in terms of speaking to a sales person, I could just as easily ask the same questions by email or live website chat. In fact, there is sometimes a 1/2 hour wait at a phone store which is very annoying.

    I bought my first iPhone many years ago from because I used the Internet to look up all sorts of questions I had and then decided I was going to switch from my Blackberry. I did not need to “talk” to anybody.

    I have bought hundreds of thousands of dollars of websites and domain names without talking to the owners by phone, and I have people who have worked for me for 10+ years that I have never spoken to by phone.

    Aside from personal communication tastes, using a phone is very inefficient. It is wasted time playing phone tag, or people call at times I am somewhat busy or distracted, or I am fine when they call but then need to soon do something else. Or, I have all sorts of info or links I want to give them but can’t because it is a phone call not an email. Or, I want to connect with them but it is 2am and I can’t call just email, or I am in a parking lot in my car and only have a few minutes so I have time to email but not call. Or, I am at a loud place where it is hard to talk but easy to email. Phone calls are outdated, just like young people say email is outdated (they don’t respond to emails, just texts).

    And, I am not a shy person and I don’t have a phone phobia or speech problem. I talk on the phone all the time and buy stuff at stores all the time. I just think it is all very inefficient and I like email much better. I understand many people like using a phone a doing stuff in person, and I don’t think that anything is wrong with that, but to call not using the phone “unprofessional” is just old style and not supported at all by facts or modern society.

  11. Eric,

    My position comes from “focus on the customer”. The average small business person wants to speak with somebody once they are in +$5,000 usd buying range. $5,000 domains are worth discussing.

    I respect your working / buying preferences. But, buyers usually “kick tires” and want to speak with the seller / sales person.

    PS nice name


    • Geoff does have a point.

      There have been a few deals where the buyer asked to have a phone conversation before agreeing to a deal, and I am fine with that. I am not going to lose a deal because I don’t like chatting on the phone.

      That said, I had the opportunity to vet the buyers before spending time on the phone, and for the most part, the conversations were not time sucks.

    • Well I’m getting email updates on this thread. Saw Geoff’s “unprofessional” comment come into my inbox. The main word that came to mind for me which I also planned to post was “silly.” Then I saw the next email and there was Eric saying “silly.” Like Eric, I also do not have a phone phobia or anything like that. In fact, I’m quite talkative in person when the times comes.

      I pretty much also agree with Elliot about being willing to talk if they buyer really wants to and it means the difference between a deal I’m interested in completing vs. not happening. So far in my case no one has ever done that. All that’s ever happened is that there have been a bunch of voice mails over the years inquiring but never any follow up by email if they don’t get a call back. Looking back now I regret not calling back one or two of them, especially the identifiable “big player” type or two. I would call back now if it was one of those.

  12. ok, if you want to sell me a domain, and I get letters every day. Send your idea personal, tell me who you are. Domainer, user, etc. I will respond either by email or phone. I have a requirement in my office, if you are on hold one minute, your order is free. it is our culture, no premadonas, We are not time wasters. Answer the phone and make it happen. I do not like buying domains from people hiding in the shadows. I pay a fair price and I don’t think of anyone who has some me a domain would say anything but that I was fair and paid immediately. I take every ones call. I had a domainer call me last week. he have a great domain that will work for us. We bought, paid and are happy. Probably it would have not happen had he not engaged me as to why it was at good domain. When Elliot calls, I listen. (from Domain Shane) Bill Mac

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