Dave Evanson is the Senior Sales and Brokerage Consultant for Sedo.com, the world’s largest domain aftermarket and monetization platform. He specializes in identifying and presenting domain name and website investment opportunities for corporate clients plus negotiating high-end exclusive sales for the purchase and sale of super-premium internet assets.
I’ve wanted to interview Dave for sometime. He’s not only an impressive broker with some serious sales under his belt, he’s also one that always comes across as professional, and gives the industry a good name.
Mike: Dave, how did you get into the domain brokerage business?
Dave: It all began right after I bought my first domain. I had founded a global, marketing and strategic planning consulting firm about 35 years ago. In the late 1990s one of our clients was (and still is) a multinational financial services corporation. A couple of my consultants were preparing a power point presentation for the client and gave it to me to review. While I was pleased with the slides on mutual funds, stocks, investment banking, etc., the slide on inheritance was light on content. I wanted to embellish it but didn’t know much about inheritance so I went to the emerging web (formerly referred to as The Super Information Highway) for help. Not much there (yet) so I bought the inheritance.com domain in the aftermarket that afternoon with grandiose ideas for development. Within the next year I had about 5,000 domains. I was already gaining experience in buying and selling domains. In 2006, I began attending domain conferences and I submitted a few hundred domains to an auction. Over 60 of them sold and I realized both domain brokerage and auctions work synergistically and represent a career change opportunity for me. I was already brokering for some friends and clients but there weren’t enough hours in the day. While I was preparing to close my management consulting firm to concentrate on domain brokerage full time I was also on a few boards (including Afternic’s Advisory Board). In late 2010 I closed the firm, resigned from the boards, and joined Sedo so I could broker full time with the support and backing of the leading global brokerage and marketplace company.
Mike: You’ve been involved in countless domain sales, what have been of your largest?
Dave: As you know, most $100,000 plus sales are not made public due to NDAs. I have been involved in over 300 six and seven figure sales over the years but most are confidential. A few I can mention that are $250,000 or more are: MM.com ($1,200,000), Furniture.co.uk ($650,000), Give.com ($500,000), Webhosting.co.uk ($500,000), Jobs.ca ($450,000), Broker.com ($375,000), True.com ($350,000), DJI.com ($300,000), Spend.com ($275,000), Grid.com ($275,000), Moms.com ($252,000) and Flashcards.com ($250,000).
Mike: Sedo boasts “Dave Evanson has completed more high value, published sales than any other broker in the domain industry.” Has it been a difficult journey building up your contacts, reputation, and success? Any secrets to your success?
Dave: I wouldn’t say it has been a particularly difficult journey. Rather, I would say it has been a long journey involving many years of hard, dedicated work. Building contacts and reputation takes time, trust and luck. It also takes diligence, persistence, honesty and drive. I have been blessed with years of job positions, projects, assignments and engagements leading to professional relationships with nearly one thousand successful business people, many of whom I go back to when looking for leads to sell a premium domain in their industry or professional network. I am very proud (and lucky) to personally know so many senior corporate executives and business leaders.
I try to put my focus on my clients and their needs. I try to communicate with them through the channels and methods they use to communicate with me. I work very hard to get them the highest prices for the domains they are selling. When I am hired to help them buy domains my full attention goes towards finding and negotiating the best prices for them. If you deliver for your clients, they will refer business to you in the future.
Mike: Do you have a favorite domain story you can share?
Dave: Well there is one but I am unable to mention the domain. It sold for $125,000 in a confidential sale. I was working for the seller. He was very difficult, demanding and even condescending at times. I found the buyer who made the seller look like an easy going, fun loving person who I’d get a beer with anytime. As the negotiations began I questioned myself as to whether or not I could facilitate a deal with these two extreme personalities. Not only that but they were from different countries with different cultures and accepted practices. It seemed to be beyond challenging to say the least but I wanted to get the deal done. There were ups and downs but we were moving along with several back and forth offers and counteroffers. Then, a comment from the buyer set the seller off and the seller began countering with higher prices which caused the buyer to lower his offer a couple of times. I thought I’d wait a day or two to let them calm down. Instead the seller was skyping and emailing me with complaints about a buyer who was lowering his offers. The seller didn’t think it was relevant that he started raising prices first. The buyer kept calling me and he seemed to have plenty of time on his hands to complain about the seller (my client). This negotiation was really wearing me down. I tried a shot of scotch, a workout at the gym, a chapter in a good book but I couldn’t get the negotiation off my mind. Anyway, the only thing I could think of was to ask seller and buyer to role play. I asked seller to think like buyer and buyer to think like seller. After a short conversation with both sides they resumed offers and counter offers from where they were before they started bidding in opposite directions with seller going higher and buyer going lower in the middle of the negotiation. The next day we had agreement on price.
Mike: What should a domainer know prior to hiring a broker for assistance in selling a domain name?
Dave: The seller should have a good understanding of what the broker is going to do to get the domain sold for the highest price. The seller should know about commissions and any other fees plus how long the agreement is in place. Seller should know what to do if someone contacts him about the domain and how the broker will provide feedback during the engagement.
Mike: How can an end user benefit from working with a domain broker to purchase a name?
Dave: The end user may know the exact domain name they want. They may not. If they don’t the broker should be able to help with name suggestions. Either way the broker can hide the end user’s identity and probably negotiate a lower price. The end user may not be able to track down the owner(s). Brokers know how to do that. The end user may not wish to negotiate. The broker has a better chance of getting the domain and can save the end user time and money.
Mike: While you focus on the cream of the crop domain names, what advice do you have for those that are working on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to selling domains?
Dave: Everyone has to start somewhere. I started delivering newspapers after school on my bicycle when I was 11. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Read domain blogs. Join domain forums. Do some valuations. List names on marketplaces such as Sedo. Go to conferences. Meet and develop relationships with other domainers and brokers. Try some auctions. Do some basic targeted outreach (such as email/phone/social media). Use an escrow service. Try to scale.
Mike: What is your opinion on the flood of newer TLDS that have hit the market? Is that a new opportunity of just some noise in the background?
Dave: I`ve brokered some premium new domains and Sedo sold a ton over the marketplace. Startups are grabbing them. Some large established companies are investing in them. It’s an ongoing process with some making good progress and taking hold. Dot com is still king but the landscape is gradually becoming more interesting.