Ways I Identify a Prospect Inquiry

It probably goes without saying, but it is important to identify who is inquiring about one of my domain names. I want to be able to know if a major corporation wants to buy my domain name, if it really is a college student working on a thesis project, and I need to gauge any risk if a lawyer is contacting me. I want to share some ways I try to identify who is contacting me.

When someone inquires about one of my domain names via my Embrace.com landing page, they are required to input their name and email address. I ask for a phone number, but it is not required in order to submit an inquiry/offer.

The first thing I usually do is run a Google search for the person’s name. This usually doesn’t give me enough identifying information since the majority of inquiries either only have a first name or have a common enough name that I can’t identify the person with certainty. I then try to search Google for the email address. This works better and can lead to a plethora of information, including domain registrations, website and/or forum posts, and other pieces of information that can prove to be useful.

I also use several tools (some require paid accounts) to identify domain name registration information. I use DomainIQ, DomainTools, and Whoisology to see what other domain names the person owns. Although this doesn’t always yield information about why the person is inquiring about one of my domain names, it can show me whether the person is a domain investor or operates businesses online and owns domain names.

I like to look at similar domain names to see if the person inquiring owns them. I usually start with the .net, .org, .CO, and some other derivations of the domain name where applicable. This can be helpful when there is something, but most of the time there isn’t anything related.

Facebook and LinkedIn can provide good background information about someone who inquired about a domain name. LinkedIn is especially good at showing what company a person is from or represents. The caveat here is that the person could work for a huge company but the domain name inquiry is on behalf of him or herself or a friend/family member. Also, I sometimes forget that if I click on the person’s LinkedIn profile while logged into my account, they will have the ability to see that I visited their page. That’s not a huge issue, but it is something to keep in mind.

One neat trick I use sometimes is entering a Gmail address (when used) into the Gmail search bar. If the person is listed with a Google + page, I may be able to find out who they are that way. This is a bit hit or miss, but it has helped me ID quite a few people who inquired about a domain name.

When I have a phone number, I can use Google or WhitePages.com to see if that yields a result. Sometimes I will even ask for a phone number before discussing to give another data point to identify the buyer. I have found email addresses to be more useful though.

Some people simply can’t be found. Some want to be totally covert and others simply have very little web presence. Finally, some people are inquiring on behalf of another person, and any info I find might lead me down the wrong path.

There are a number of reasons why I want to know who is inquiring about my domain names. These are just some of the methods I use to find out who is behind the inquiry.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the DomainInvesting.com 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. I get a lot of inquiries from the covert buyers (often gmails that have no history, or brand new @domains under privacy).

    Any insight on how to approach from a sales perspective??

    I’d say most don’t reply after my first response, but if they are serious I usually get to find out who they are once we hit escrow.

  2. Hello Eliot,

    Seems like it’s a common excuse to act as a college student to get a discount on a domain name. I was reading acro’s blog when he mentioned the samething as well. Are these “Buyers” regular endusers trying to save money or domainers disguised to get a name at wholesale price?

    • They are liars. Liars come from any demographic, but not all people in each demographic. There are still people who have integrity. If somebody starts out lying to me, and I find out in time, there’s about a 100% chance they won’t get a deal.

  3. I do some of the same stuff but I often come up with nothing. I also try not to put too much stock into it because usually people who do not want to found out know how to accomplish this pretty well and even if you find something you still really do not know what the true intent is.

  4. After using similar methods to yours, Elliot, I was still short of any reliable data.
    Now, to identify the prospect better, and to eliminate the tire kickers, I always ask for the following:
    “Please reply with the following info:
    – Your full legal name,
    – The email address to be used in the domain’s escrow and transfer procedures.”

    Many do not reply, some do…

  5. Elliot, tx for these tips

    regarding linkedin, you can change the privacy settings to not show your id looking at another profile

    i recently lucked in when having had no luck with the salient sources you mentioned i found corporate info on the inquirer on his facebook page

    curious that you didnt mention the ip address on the email that you get from your form on a website

    such ip address can provide some intel – may tip you if the inquirer is from a larger corporate hosted static ip address, vs dynamic like most home and smaller businesses; may help some

    also if looking at your website’s log, if there has been a large jump in visits from same ip address – or large burp in whois inquiries on the same domain, it may indicate an interest from a more serious source

  6. “if it really is a college student working on a thesis project”

    Two things to remember about these types of communications. First, it is a felony in the US to communicate by international or interstate electronic means of communication a willful falsehood for the purpose of obtaining a thing of value.

    Secondly, when you run into a lawyer using a yahoo or gmail address and pretending not to be a lawyer, you should be aware that a lawyer acting on behalf of a client who fails to identify him or herself AS a lawyer acting on behalf of a client is likely committing a violation of their state ethics regulations.

    These types of communications, when they turn up during the course of a dispute, can make things interesting for the other side.

  7. Good post, Elliot.

    Add these to the list. 1) Google the keywords in your domain on the News tab. See if anything has happened that has elevated interest. 2) Then, do the same thing by checking Google Trends. 3) Also, in the case of the reverse, if you are proactively seeking an end user sale, study an industry, study the business, study their stock announcements, look up their company on the stock chatter resources, study their markets, study the value of that keyword to dominate a niche. Then reach out to a specific CEO, b2b, and tie the domain to the value it will provide, without the hype, mostly numbers, succinctly. Don’t contact all the competitors in the niche. You’re not in a rush. If you don’t hear back from them, wait for your next contact in 1 to 2 weeks from one of the domain management firms (netnames, brandshield, etc.)– you know, the ones who buy blind on behalf of their nameless clients. They deliberately pace a distance beyond your initial contact. When you get this contact out of the blue, then you’ll have a pretty good idea who is buying your domain. ~ Tasha Kidd, CorporationDomains.com


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