Your Personal Sales Consultant

Parting the curtain on eBay's Top Seller Account Management program.

by Brad and Debra Schepp
- Oct 02, 2009

It's no secret that eBay is putting a lot of energy into developing programs and incentives to reward its best-performing sellers. For example, at the end of July, with summer vacations in full swing, eBay announced the launch of a new Top-rated seller designation. The program will officially roll out in October.

Top-rated sellers will not only receive a 20-percent discount on their final value fees, they will be identified on the site with a special Top-rated seller badge. With as few as 100 transactions and a sales volume of only $3,000 annually, even relatively small sellers can achieve Top-rated seller status.

The key to success for these sellers will be in providing great buyer experiences, with a very low incidence of DSRs of 1 or 2. The Top-rated seller badge that appears on the seller's view item pages will be a clear signal to browsers that they have found a trustworthy merchant. Top-rated sellers will also receive advantages in search results.

Top-rated sellers can aspire to eBay's equivalent of "white glove" or concierge service through the company's Top Seller Account Manager (TSAM) program. We wouldn't be surprised if you're unfamiliar with this program, as it's not all that well publicized. You can't apply to join. eBay will reach out to you about it if you qualify. For those few sellers who reach this pinnacle, the rewards—in terms of personal attention—are impressive. For the inside scoop we spoke to Sarah Brubacher, eBay's senior manager of Top Seller Account Management.

Sellers of a certain gross merchandise size and buyer satisfaction rating become eligible for an account manager

First, we should mention a similar program that you are more likely familiar with, eBay's OnRamp program. It allowed sellers to call customer support and have an eBay staff person look over their listings and eBay Store to make suggested changes and improvements. OnRamp was great while it lasted, but it's been shelved in favor of other outreach efforts.

"We chose to discontinue the OnRamp program and redouble our efforts in our account management program," Brubacher tells us.

"Sellers of a certain gross merchandise size and buyer satisfaction rating become eligible for an account manager," she explains. "This is about eBay recognizing successful sellers who then get consultations about changes to the site or free listing days. They've gone through the initial hurdles and are serious about selling on the site."

How sellers reach the point of eligibility for the TSAM program is eBay-proprietary information, but Brubacher notes that qualifying for account management will entail "a combination of driving great buying experiences and volume on the site."

Two qualifying sellers who spoke with us, Jordan Insley, a Titanium PowerSeller, and Matt Becker, a Diamond PowerSeller, praised eBay's TSAM support.

"We have two account managers through TSAM," reports Becker, who sells used Rolex watches on the site. "If one account manager can't help, they find someone else within eBay who can."

Insley agrees. In the last three years, he's sold about 230,000 iPods on eBay. He commends eBay's TSAM with spotting potential fraud in his listings.

"They look for ongoing problems," he says. "We had a buyer who suddenly bid $2,000 for an iPod that sells for $100 to $150. They have resourceful people who genuinely want to help."

It's clear these large sellers are quite satisfied with the level of support they receive from the TSAM consultants. But what about the countless smaller sellers who currently don't qualify for the program and may never reach the level of sales to qualify?

PowerSellers still have their support team based in Salt Lake City, and these consultants can be reached by phone

Well, PowerSellers still have their support team based in Salt Lake City, and these consultants can be reached by phone.

"These sellers can always call live help," Brubacher says. "Plus, we try to make our help resources [on the site] as do-it-yourself as possible, so hopefully folks can find what they need right there. They can also use 'Contact Us.'"

Brubacher also encourages sellers to attend webinars eBay holds whenever there are significant announcements and changes to the platform. If you missed the webinar about the changes announced in July you can access it on demand here.

So, it's out with the old and in with the new. Happily, the July announcements from eBay include some news sure to please sellers, large, small and in between.

"We've gone to two seller releases a year to help eliminate confusion among sellers," Brubacher notes. "We're also giving sellers more time to meet the challenges. They'll have 60 days to make changes to listings or strategies. We want sellers wholly focused on selling and providing great buyer experiences."

In a future article, we'll provide a careful review and inside look at the successful eBay operations of both Insley and Becker. Surprised to learn that Becker has managed to sell about $1 million worth of merchandise a month, even through this troubled economy? We were, and we were delighted that he and Insley so generously shared their expertise with us.

About the Author

Brad and Debra Schepp are the authors of 20 books, including eBay PowerSeller Secrets and The Official Success Guide: Insider Tips and Strategies for Sourcing Products from the World's Largest B2B Marketplace. Their most recent book, which Deb co-authored with John Lawson, Kick Ass Social Commerce for E-preneurs: It's Not About Likes—It's About Sales, was recently named the 2015 Small Business Book of the Year in the social media category.

For further information, visit Brad and Deb's website,

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

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