Using Escrow.com as a Negotiation Tactic

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When you’re negotiating to purchase something in person, and you’re just a bit away from reaching an agreed upon price, some buyers will show the seller a pile of cash as a means of closing a deal. For instance, if the owner of a collectible wants $15,000 and you’re only willing to pay $10,000, you may pull the neat stack of $100 bills and put it on the table in front of him, telling him to “take it or leave it.”

The owner will look at the pile of cash and realize that it’s the most you (the buyer) will pay, and he needs to decide whether or not he’d rather have his collectible or the money. Once you’ve set your final offer down, you need to hold firm and walk away if you’re rejected, otherwise it will seem like you have a weak constitution and the buyer will get the better deal if you keep upping your offer.

When you are negotiating to purchase a domain name, you can’t really pull out a stack of hundreds and say “take it or leave it.” You can say it’s your final offer, but for the seller, there isn’t the lure of seeing a pile of money in front of his or her face to contemplate. However, you can use Escrow.com (or another escrow service if you prefer) to encourage the seller to make the deal.

If you think you’re very close to a deal in a negotiation, but you’re just percentage points away from making the deal, you might want to try this sales closing tactic. Tell the seller it’s your final offer and let him or her know that you’re not going any higher. Set up the deal at Escrow.com and let them know you’re doing that. You should also be clear about the fees (I like to cover them in this situation).

The seller will receive an email from Escrow.com letting them know about the transaction, and this tends to get them to realize you’ve made your final offer and if they want to make a deal on the domain name, this is it. They will receive a couple of reminder emails if they haven’t signed in to agree to the deal,and that’s something that will also remind them of the finality of your offer.

I used this tactic once and it worked. In fact, the seller and I kidded around about it after and he said it was a pretty good maneuver on my part to get him to close the deal because he really wasn’t sure about it until he received the email from Escrow.com.

Yes, Escrow.com is an advertiser, but so is Sedo, and if you happen to like their escrow service or Afternic, or Moniker, be my guest. I happen to think Escrow.com has wider brand recognition because of the company’s partnerships, and that could make it easier to close the deal, but that’s your decision.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Very cool tip Elliot and good suggestion about covering the escrow fees in this instance. A suggestion to make the deal even more akin to cash is to add to your offer the disbursement fees applicable so that nothing is deducted from the amount the seller will receive, such as the $20 US domestic wire transfer fee, or $40 wire fee if the seller lives outside the US, etc.

  2. A great idea.

    I think it would also be good to use this to simply make offers on domain names instead of using one of those stupid services from Netsol or Godaddy (“certified” offer etc.) which I get from time to time.

    I think though that you have to be on the dartboard with your offer. So if you come, say, within 20% of what you would get the domain for (with a back and forth negotiation) then the reality of a serious offer and sure money is very compelling to a seller. I think it could actually save someone on the purchase.

    By the way the base example that you gave (pile of money) also works when buying cars. Show up with the check (for the deposit) and wave it in front of the salesman. He knows you will go to another dealer and will work extra hard to not loose the sale.
    Contrary to what people think appearing to be a serious buyer and not “take it or leave it buyer” can actually be a better situation. It’s like teasing a dog with food.

    • @ Gnanes

      You only pay if the seller agrees to the deal, you send payment, and then the deal is canceled. I am sure you could tell the seller to pay or face legal action for failing to complete the deal, although that would certainly depend on the transaction value.

  3. An Escrow.com transaction should be opened only after both parties have agreed to the sale/purchase. I don’t like the forcing tactic, and I think it shouldn’t be used for several reasons. Just my 2 cents.

  4. @Elliot

    I am sure many people are going to do this after reading your post, and to say the least it’s going to just rack up Escrow.com’s database with “potential” deals that may or may not go through. I know in the end both parties have to sign up and agree to the deal, but Escrow’s system wasn’t made for that purpose.

  5. @ Abdu

    I’m still confused. You think it’s going to overwhelm the company’s database? I am sure it can handle the few transactions that might be started but not completed.

    I think people need to use common sense about when this tactic is appropriate, as they would use common sense and business sense on other things as well. I wouldn’t throw down $10,000 cash to try and lure a Mercedes Benz dealer to sell me a SL 550 Roadster.

  6. “And Escrow.com cost to go back and include “potential” deals in their statistics, follow-up efforts, etc…”

    What follow up efforts? They send a follow up after a transaction is inactive for 2 days and then a final follow up after 7 days of inactivity. These are automated and likely take no human intervention.

    I would imagine they can easily separate the canceled transactions for their statistics.

    I also don’t recall ever being solicited by Escrow.com, despite being a long time customer, so I don’t think they would use email addresses of other parties for email efforts. In addition, it would likely be against US CAN SPAM rules if they don’t have a business relationship established.

  7. I asked Andee Hill of Escrow.com for her opinion, and here’s here feedback:

    “I like it. Your points are all valuable and in my opinion correct. My only concern is that sellers may try to use this in the opposite way and create more than one transaction for the same domain. This is not something Escrow.com will support. “

  8. ELLIOT @
    I did that once with escrow.com.
    If the buyer agree and he backs out then he needs to pay a fine.Not the seller,i was trying to push one deal like that,unfortunately my transaction did not happen.
    I do think it’s a good idea,especially if escrow.com doesn’t mind.

  9. This is potentially a very dangerous advice for larger transactions. Putting escrow before signing paper contract will fall under playing games or even bad faith from many sellers point of view. Sure you may save 20% in some cases, but be prepared to derail many transactions and to have some sellers refuse any further negotiations once they get escrow email they did not authorize.

  10. @ Jon

    Good point. This absolutely could back fire. The buyer should be prepared to walk away if it’s not accepted. I also wouldn’t recommend using this tactic if the offer isn’t your best offer since it could derail a transaction.

    For me though, I would send the domain sales agreement after Escrow is agreed to, and I would explain that the agreement at Escrow.com is not a sales agreement but is an escrow agreement.

  11. “Escrow.com Protects Online Buyers and Sellers from Fraud”
    The slogan described at escrow.com really can facilitate a deal and it looks like to be a natural tactic because one of the greatest questions to the seller will always be the money. Thanks.

  12. Elliott.
    Sorry for over-analyzing it.
    By starting escrow transaction you are starting a legal process to buy something that seller did not yet authorize to sell. Seller could in theory see it as attempted theft. I am sure very few sellers will see it as such, but some may.

  13. @ Jon

    I wouldn’t say that because I don’t see how it can be perceived as theft since the buyer would have no way to steal the domain name and the transaction wouldn’t even be valid until the domain owner agrees to the terms.

    I could see initiating a transfer as attempted theft but I don’t even know how that could really be done without the authorization of the domain owner.

  14. I’ve used this tactic several times. It usually works well. It was used on me yesterday. I’ve been negotiating to buy a name and not getting much in the way of a response from the other side (so i was basically negotiating with myself – I hate it when it’s used on me!). Yesterday, I received an escrow.com email stating that the owner had agreed to sell the name for $10k. I agreed just to finally get the deal done.

  15. Back in my days in the fish business we used to call this using the invoice as a sales tool.

    I used to just write up the invoice and fax it over to the customer. Maybe 10% – 20% of the time you got a phone call back and closed a deal.

    It’s a highly effective tactic and I never thought about doing it with Escrow.com – great idea!

    Thanks Elliot – you are a genious! 🙂

  16. @Elliot: Whenever you were the domain owner, you’d just push the name into my acct and tell me send you a check. (Oh yeah!. You’ve done that more than once, my friend)

    @Andrew: What’s a fax? 😉

  17. Good post Elliot.

    It’s a very interesting strategy to push the seller over the tipping point.

    May very well use this one in the future.

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