Negotiating Deals to Sell on eBay

A few days ago I got a small purchase from a Craig’s List ad, which from one point of view isn’t particularly remarkable, since I do this all the time, but the dynamic of what happened may be useful to you.  The guy had a blanket of stuff, most of which was junk that I didn’t want, but there were a few choice items, and in fact, one item that thought might have been exceptional.

Not wanting more junk to store in my basement until yard season sale next year, I told the seller that we could do it a couple of ways:  I could buy just a few pieces, or I could buy the whole thing, but if I bought all of it, it wouldn’t mean much more money than if I’d bought just a couple of pieces.  He asked which items I wanted, if I were to pick and choose, so I pulled out a few things.

He then said that earlier he’d sold a bunch of signs to a dealer, and felt like he’d gotten ripped off.  Knowing that particular piece of human psychology that lumps one or two  experiences together and then generalizes into statements like “all (dealers)(women)(men)    (blacks)(whites)(Arabs) are all alike”–which certainly isn’t true, of course–I asked him to put a price on the stuff himself, rather than me giving one, which I usually do.  He said $200, I had $60 in mind since I wasn’t sure at all about the value, and we settled on a hundred (his second offer).

As it turned out, one of the items may be exceptional (See the Steal of the Week, in a week or so, to watch what happened), but what is more important from a teaching point of view is the way I handled the negotiation–which got both of us what he wanted.  Had he said he needed to get rid of everything, I could certainly have done that, but he was happy to piece it out. I distinguished myself from other dealers by letting him set the price.  And then working together, we found a price we could both agree on.  Had I set a price first, my guess would be that he would be thinking of the other dealer who he felt had ripped him off, so my offer would have been suspect.  Letting him name the price does an end run around that objection.

The other important aspect, which I’ve mentioned many times elsewhere, is that if you don’t know the retail value of something, you have to buy very conservatively.  The exact formula I usually use is in the information product, but it’s flexible to some degree–you simply have to buy cheap enough that even if you are WAY off you still at least get your money back.

As always, I encourage to write your comments and experiences below, and watch for the video coming next week as to how I did on the auction–was it really the Steal of the Week, or did I mess up?


Branching Beyond Your eBay Sales Niche

From time to time, in my searches for inventory, I’ve hit slow or dead spots.  There is nothing for sale on Craig’s List that I can buy profitably.  It’s too cold or rainy for yard sales, or it’s the wrong time of year.  Or the ads I’m running aren’t pulling, or the people who call on the ads are in dreamland on prices–the list goes on and on.  Sometimes it’s just difficult to get stuff to resell!

The good news is that reselling is a cyclical business.  And it is dependent on change.  Until the circumstances of peoples’ lives stop changing, until there are no more deaths, divorces, marriages, illnesses, moves across country, bankruptcies, and so on, there will always be things to sell, as circumstances frequently force people to sell their stuff.

But what do you do in the meantime?  One possibility is to expand your field of expertise.  If you like jewelry, look into estate jewelry, or perhaps high end costume jewelry.  If you specialize in Porsche parts, learn about Alfa Romeo or Jag parts.  I’d suggest either going into something that’s related to what you now specialize in, or go into something you are interested in.

Although I have a ton of inventory, I’m right now reading up on finding books to resell on eBay.  And on this, and in other subject areas, there are information products that, for a nominal fee, will give you what you need to get started.  Expand your comfort zone and area of expertise and have fun!



When’s The Best Time To End an eBay Auction?

Well, this isn’t really rocket science.  Generally, ending your auction-style format sales is best on Sunday night, at a time slot that will work for both coasts.  You don’t want to have people on the opposite coasts having to watch the end of an auction when they are away from home, if possible, nor do you want to force people to stay up late to do the same.  Generally, somewhere in the 6:30 p.m. range is good, as you can read from any number of sources, starting with eBay itself.

But there are lots of exceptions.  If Christmas, or any other major holiday, fell on Sunday night, would you end an auction then? If there were a three-day weekend, and it was pretty certain that many people would be out of town for the weekend, would it make sense to end then? If there was a major news event, would it make sense to even START an eBay auction until the dust settled?  The point is, you don’t want your audience to be any more distracted than they may be already, you don’t want your auction to be competing for the attention of your watchers any more than it is already!

Also, if you are targeting businesses, wouldn’t it make sense to end the auction during the day, during business hours?  If you were targeting stay-at-home moms, would you want to end an auction during dinner time?

In other words, the “end auctions Sunday night” rule is generally right, but use your head!

Also, I’ve had plenty of success ending auctions other days as well.  Just don’t end the auction during events such as Election Day, sports playoffs, and so on.  Again, common sense should be the determining factor.  Good luck!


Ship in a Timely Manner When You Sell on eBay!

Recently, I was going over my feedbacks, and one thing that many, many people commented on was how quickly they received the item they ordered (see  I generally ship within a few HOURS of when I receive payment.

Have you ever had a customer complain about having received his order too quickly?  No, I haven’t either, and don’t expect to.  Prompt shipping is the second to last hurdle to overcome in the sales process, and the last, of course, is satisfaction with the item received.  Now, do you suppose if the customer is the tiniest bit dissatisfied with what you sent, this might be a bit glossed over by the prompt shipping?  How about if he received the item in a week and a half, instead of two days?

And in any case, if we are really interested in doing a great job for our eBay customers, shipping almost immediately has to be part of that process.

How to Deal With High eBay Fees: Buy LOW!

The discussion boards continue to expand with sellers complaining about high eBay fees, how they can’t make a profit, how greedy eBay is, and so on.  While there is a certain amount of validity to some of this, it misses the point:  how do I run a profitable eBay business, despite obstacles?

If costs increase, there are a few ways to address the problem.  One, you could eat the costs, and reduce your bottom line.  Two, you could reduce your other expenses, thereby taking the pressure off your bottom line.  Or three, my preferred method, buy cheaply enough that even if eBay raises their prices, it has little effect on you (this is why my eBook is called “If You Can’t Steal It, Don’t Deal It”).

As far as I am concerned, if you are only doubling your money on eBay, you are working for someone else, pretty much, after you take out the cost of the goods, the PayPal fees, the eBay fees, and your gas and other expenses.  If you are buying from wholesalers, you are lucky to make this amount, and you have to make your profit dealing in volume.

But if you limit your eBay buying to liquidations, you will be buying for ten cents on the dollar.  If you buy used goods, your cost may be even lower. And you don’t have to spend anywhere near as many hours, or do anywhere near as much work, to make the same money.

How?  Keep reading these posts to find out how to do just that!


When You Sell on eBay, Refunds Are A Part of Customer Service.

In the best of all possible worlds, everything we sold and shipped on eBay would be met with total customer approval.  Well, guess what? Despite our best efforts, sometimes things are not up to customer expectations.  Perhaps you made a mistake in the eBay listing, perhaps the customer didn’t read the listing or look at the pictures, perhaps the customer wants to take advantage of you in some way–but now he has contacted you, and now you need to deal with it.

With rare exceptions, I’ll refund the money without questions.  With the type of merchandise I sell (tools), there is very little fraud, and the complaints are often (not always) valid. With other merchandise, you have to be careful.  When the customer returns the item, is it what you sent? Same serial number (this is a good thing to have a picture of, by the way)? Did they return a non-working item, trying to do the old switcheroo?  Or is there a valid complaint?  Remember, you want to avoid a negative eBay feedback.

Unfortunately, with the eBay feedback system, you cannot leave a negative feedback for someone who tries to screw you or take advantage of you.  So you are in a situation where you are trying to negotiate with someone who is pointing a gun at you.  eBay will help you to a certain extent against unreasonable complaints, but the burden is on us as sellers to give exemplary service to our eBay customers, which is what we should be doing anyway.  And of course if you get a jerk, add him or her to the “blocked bidders” list on eBay:

One thing that will help reduce returns is to have a 30-day return policy.  It is a human tendency to procrastinate, and if you can get them to put off the need for a return, there is a pretty good chance they will forget to do it!




Make More Money On eBay: Learn About Specialty Books!

A few days ago, I purchased a sizable load of watchmaker’s tools, and included with this load was three large boxes of specialty books.  These covered many areas of repair, collection, and value. Well, I knew that some books sell on eBay, and quite well, but others are the sort of thing you see listed on Amazon for a penny, and the seller hopes to scrape out a bit of money on the postage.  But books are certainly not an area of expertise for me, to say the least!

So, when I evaluated the load of merchandise, I allowed about $150 for the books.  That is, I figured the least I could sell these books on eBay for was $150.  Working backwards, to figure out an offering price, what I finally did offer for the whole deal included about $50 for the books.  Remember, when you are buying and you’re in an arena you aren’t familiar with, be VERY conservative on what you offer!

So I got the books home, and of course some of them are total dogs.  But a surprisingly large number of them are listed on Amazon for twenty to fifty dollars, and a couple of them are over a hundred.

So this got me thinking:  what other areas of specialty books are there that you could sell for a big profit on eBay?  Probably many!  Most books have virtually no value once they leave Amazon or the bookstore, but there are niches of books that do.  Clockmaking. Books on magic (and magic tricks, too, I might add). Certain specialty cookbooks. Gunsmithing.  Collecting various things.  The list goes on and on.

But here you need to do your homework, as not all specialty books have value on eBay or Amazon.  Check the sold’s on eBay.  Visit Worthpoint or Terapeak. See what sells for what in which area on Amazon.  Do your homework and it will pay off–particularly since books usually go begging for a dollar or two at most at yard sales.

Oh, yeah–with books that you buy that are dogs?  Don’t waste your time selling them for a penny to make peanuts on the postage.  Donate them, and spend your time going after more valuable stuff!

And for a whole lot more information on how you can be a success on eBay, check out the tab above that says “You Can Become an eBay Whiz”!


Sell More On eBay: Use eBay Classifieds!

When you sell on eBay, if you are like me, from time to time you come across a deal that’s almost too good to pass up–but the prospect of packing and shipping the thing to ship to someone on the other side of the country dissuades you from making the purchase.  Or sometimes, in order to do a deal, you have to buy stuff that’s hard to ship, so you either pass on the deal, or buy stuff that’s tough to move.  Well, it’s time to stop leaving money on the table and get more money on eBay.

If you are thinking of Craig’s List as the only recourse in such a situation, here is another:  eBay classifieds.  You can post a local eBay listing for a nominal sum, pay no final value fees, and the buyer can come over to pick the item up–no shipping!  It’s not as widely viewed as Craig’s List, and at the same time, it is still one more tool in your selling tool box.

For more info on eBay classifieds, see  Happy selling!

How To Sell a Crowbar for $580!

If you asked me a week ago if I’d be writing a post with such a preposterous title, I’d say you’d been smoking a strange cigarette!  But a couple of weeks ago, I purchased a load of estate merchandise, part of which was a 32″ crowbar that had been used by a fireman in entering burning buildings.  It was unusual–it had a pry bar and a on one end, and a long point and another pry bar on the other.  After some research, I discovered it was called a Halligan bar, also a hooligan bar, and was used in firefighting, for knocking in doors during an emergency. On eBay, new versions of this thing were in the 2-300 range, so I figured I might sell mine for $75-125, which would have been considerably more than I paid for it.  Remember, if you aren’t 100% sure of what you will sell something for, buy conservatively!          Imagine my surprise when, after day 4, it was up to $250, and I got an offer of $300, if I would be willing to end the auction early! And at auction’s end, it went up to $580!  And a few days earlier I sold a couple of wrenches for $88.

So, besides blowing my own horn, what’s to be gained from all this?  First, there are often sleepers in what you buy.  I never dreamed in a million years that I’d get this much for these items.  Two:  people collect very strange things.  Fireman’s tools, for example. But I knew a little about old wrenches-I thought–and specifically that people like the tiny old ones.  But eighty eight bucks for a non-rare brand? Weird!  Three:  you don’t get deals if you are sitting at home reading about them.  You get them by taking action, by going to yard sales, flea markets, thrift stores, by placing “wanted to buy” ads, and so on (see “How to Become an eBay Whiz” for a complete rundown).  Four: you have to learn–and continue to learn–about what people will spend insane amounts of money on.  Search “pie birds” as an example of this.

eBay, as you probably know, has certain items that they will not let you sell.  Guns, live animals, body parts, and so on–as well as locksmith equipment and lock picks.  So I was a little concerned about selling the Halligan bar, since it is a tool for breaking down a door.  I looked, and a number of people were selling them on eBay.  So apparently it is OK to sell a breaking and entering tool, but not to sell a tool for legal entry.  If there is a logic in this, it eludes me!

Could YOU take in $2132 in a week on eBay?

Does it seem possible that YOU could have a $2132 week on eBay like I did last week (ending July 21, 2013)?  Well, it never would have seemed a possibility to me when I first started selling on eBay.  In fact, I’d have been happy selling anything at all on eBay! But let me trace the steps of what I did in this instance, since this will speak how I implement the action I discuss at length in my information product (see tab “How YOU Can Become an eBay Whiz!”).

First, I located the seller.  Or more correctly, the seller located me, through strategically placed and timed advertising.  Then, I spoke with him at length over the phone, and learned a couple of things.  He appeared to be the rightful owner of the things. He no longer was using them.  He was attempting a career change, was in school, had a tuition payment due in a few days, and needed money quickly (motivation!).  I set an appointment that same day, and went to see him.  I made him an offer based on a conservative estimate of what I could sell the things for.  We went back and forth. He started wanting a thousand, I offered four hundred.  We settled on six hundred.  I had my inventory, he had his tuition and his new career, and we were both happy.

I went home, sorted things out, started taking pictures, creating listings, and posting them for the following Sunday.

Does this sort of thing happen every day or every week?  No–it’s inconsistent–but it happens with amazing frequency, once you get the hang of how to do it.  And in fact, sometimes I have to scramble for cash when I have three people in a week who have thousand dollar deals.  If you have been reading my blog and watching the “Bragging Rights” videos, you know this is true.

Will you want to start out with six hundred dollar deals?  No, of course not.  Get comfortable with twenty, fifty, hundred dollar deals, and then go up from there.  And when you start getting the bigger deals, you’ll realize a couple of important things:  one, they aren’t any more difficult to do than the little deals–and in fact they are often easier, because there is less competition.  And two, your profit margin is generally a lot higher.  Plus you will have things to sell for quite some time, and can concentrate on listing and selling, rather than buying. Unfortunately, though, you usually have more treasures to haul away from the seller’s house.  Life’s tough, isn’t it?

By the way, I still had a lot of stuff left over that I didn’t sell during the $2132 week.  Not bad, for a part-time business!