“Would You Sell…” is a Fishing Expedition

When someone emails to ask, “would you sell X for $xx,xxx?” I look at as a fishing expedition. Some may also call it tire kicking, but people who ask about buying a domain name at a certain price are usually more interested in fishing for the right number rather than simply kicking the tires on a domain name. I know this because I sometimes do it when I am trying to buy a domain name.

Asking “would you sell…” is non-committal. If the domain registrant replies affirmatively, the person who inquired can say something like “I will get back to you.” This is contrasted with a direct offer that is something like “I would like to offer you $xx,xxx to buy X.” If the domain registrant agrees, that is pretty much like a handshake deal from my perspective.

As a buyer, I like the “would you” question. It allows me to inquire about millions of dollars worth of domain name assets without having to commit millions of dollars in purchases. It almost never happens that a bunch of offers are accepted at one time, but asking “would you sell” allows for an out in case I have too many deals to swallow at once. It also allows the buyer to agree to buy the domain name if the price is right.

As a seller, I don’t like when this question is posed. When negotiating with someone, I like to deal with firm offers. I don’t want to agree to a hypothetical offer that the buyer can opt out of. I don’t want to say “yes” and find out the buyer needs to get his search marketing team on board or the buyer needs to get board approval at next month’s meeting.

When someone asks about a price in this manner, I usually push back to ask if it is a bonafide offer. I will often tell the other party to discuss internally and present an actual offer rather than asking if I would sell for a particular number. I might even imply that the figure would be strongly considered if a firm offer was submitted, but I won’t agree to a price based on a “would you.”

I understand that buyers operate in different ways. Some may not be able to present a firm offer until they get board approval or approval from their backers. They also don’t want to ask their partners to approve a number that may or may not be realistic. For me, I don’t like it when people ask a question like “would you sell,” and I will push back on that to get a firm offer if possible.

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. As I said many times, they are f*&&ing with your mind. Most probably they already know who you are and chances that they are one of your trusted domainer friends.

  2. If anything, it also comes across as a weak offer from somebody that doesn’t really know if the name is right for them, is looking at options etc because they have 100 others on their list and yours isn’t in their top 5 etc.

    Maybe the answer of “Everything is for sale at the right price” is suited best to this situation..

  3. I do that most of the time, and every single time I’m not fishing and my intention is to buy right away if they say yes.

    I guess when you’re primarily an end user and only second a domainer it’s easy for an approach like that to be sincere without game playing. That’s normally the only kind of offer I make – to buy one for actual use. My offers are normally not for the purpose of buying one to sell at a profit. It is usually only a possibility thought and secondary consideration while the primary goal is to secure an income generating asset that I might want to just keep and use till I die.

    So take it from the end user perspective: it’s definitely not just kicking tires and playing games. Maybe it is for domainers, though, but not end users. And don’t just decide to not respond based on any assumpttion like that.

    However, it’s also my turn to take it from the perspective of a domainer here now: perhaps it’s time for me to reevaluate this approach in light of Elliot’s domainer perspective here. Perhaps this approach has cost me being able to obtain a few really good ones.

    • PS: “Would you take…” is an implicit offer, at least it should be. It didn’t occur to me that most people asking that way would or should be construed as only kicking tires or playing games. A few, sure, but most otherwise. Honestly – if you are one of those people whose “would you take $x” is not an actual firm offer with intent to proceed, that is frankly disgusting and disgraceful, and you are an embarrassment.

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