Go Ahead, Make Me an Offer

Effective use of this pricing technique can increase sales.

by Danna Crawford
- Nov 02, 2009

Whenever I think about eBay's Make an Offer option, it brings to mind Clint Eastwood's classic "Dirty Harry" movie line, "Go ahead, make my day." Only now I'm saying to my potential eBay customers, "Go ahead and make me an offer!"

Today, I want to encourage all eBay sellers using the fixed-price/Buy It Now format to include Make an Offer. Don't worry about your bottom line suffering. There's no additional eBay fee to add this option to your listing. It hurts nothing, and you can always decline an offer by including a friendly note to the buyer.

I've gotten a few e-mails lately from worried sellers who are not making sales. When I venture into their listings, I often find they have many items that are overpriced that don't include the Make an Offer option.

Sellers, please keep in mind this advice from eBay University: "Think like a buyer!" Particularly now, when shoppers are spending more time looking for bargains online, showing that you're flexible about pricing can work in your favor.

Say you're in the market to buy an item and you see the item priced high from two people, but one of them has the Make an Offer option. Chances are, you are indeed going to "make an offer" to the seller who clearly wants your business, and you are going to walk away from the other one. Which seller would you rather be?

Keep it simple

I also suggest you avoid including too many "terms" with your Make an Offer settings that would exclude potentially wonderful trading partners. Here's a great example: I once sold a go-kart to a man in Georgia for $900 and he had a -1 feedback. Yes it's true! Yet, it turned out to be a great sale. The man drove to my home in Florida—which was a good five-hour drive, one way, for him. He showed up with cash in hand, completing a very successful transaction. We both parted with good feedback.

If I had specified in my buyers preferences to turn away anyone with bad feedback, I would have missed out on that great sale.

However, I didn't approach the transaction with blind trust. When he placed a bid on my go-kart and I noticed he had bad feedback, I contacted him with a kind, reasonable note:

"Hello, forgive me to have to ask, but I noticed you have a negative feedback score and I need to check to make sure you are a serious bidder on my auction. I'm sure you understand, and if you wouldn't mind, please call me at your convenience to confirm you want this item. If I don't hear from you within 24 hours then I will have no choice but to cancel your bid. Thanks in advance for understanding, and I do look forward to hearing from you and doing business with you."

Communicating instead of ignoring unreasonable offers is simply good business practice

I then included my phone number and the very kind man called me to explain his situation, and that he did want the go-kart as a Christmas present for his son.

For those using eBay, please remember that you, too, had zero feedback at one time. There's nothing worse than trying to bid on an item and receiving a notice that the seller has you blocked. Chances are the buyer will never shop with you again.

Take the positive approach

Now, occasionally, someone will make an offer that seems silly and unreasonable. So what? It happens. You may feel insulted, but I suggest you turn it around into a social, future customer opportunity!

Write them back with a decline or counteroffer and include a note, something like: "I sure wish I could sell it to you for that price. Heck, I wish I bought it myself at that price! I can't blame you for trying, but realistically, I can't let it go that low."

Communicating instead of ignoring those offers is simply good business practice. It's a golden opportunity to open up the lines of communication and establish a future or repeat customer.

Encourage bidders to make your day by including Make an Offer in all your fixed-price eBay listings.

About the Author

Danna Crawford, CEO of PowerSellingMom, Inc., has been a successful eBay seller since 1997. In 2008, she received eBay's Community Hall of Fame award, as well as the Golden Ribbon Community Seller Award from eBay Giving Works. As an eBay Certified Education Specialist, she teaches at the community college and university levels, and frequently speaks on topics such as how to make money blogging, writing eBooks and more. Crawford can be heard every Friday night on her Internet radio show, PowerSellingMomRadio, and in weekly webinars at VirtualOnlineLearning.com.

Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.

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