On Craigslist I have sold bookshelves, a TV, bar stools, a coffee table, a BMX bike, a washer and dryer set, a motorcycle, a wine rack and countless other items.
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10 ideas on having a smoother sales process from start to finish
1. When Making Your Listing Tell A Story
It is important to include relevant product details. In this case of the vehicle. Include all possible facts starting with mileage, year of production, make, model, and so on and so forth.
Include any other helpful knowledge such as when it last had an oil change. Did you get new tires recently? Or windshield wipers? Brakes? Alternator?
Anything you can add to increase the value of your item over that of all thousands of other options.
But beyond the basics include a true story.
Explain how you got it. What you have used it for and what it can do. You need to build usefulness into the mind of your potential buyer. And tell them why you are selling it. Some people might be suspicious that you no longer want it so it is important to show that it still has value, just not to you.
2. Be Realistic On How Much You Want For It
Shop around before you set your asking price.
First look at similar items on Craigslist where your buyers will be seeing your product. Next check on eBay or Amazon or just Google search and see if you can find a similar used item and see what the asking price is listed.
Remember what someone wants for something is not the same as how much a buyer is willing to pay.
On eBay you can filter the search for completed listings that have actually sold and that way you can see how much someone was actually willing to pay for an item.
Remember just because you spent $X amount on dollars on repairs or restoration means absolutely nothing to your buyer.
Your sunk costs are sunk.
You have to think why you are selling it (which you should have written about in the listing) and realize that you currently value money over the item at this particular point. If you are still attached to it (emotionally or otherwise) than you should reconsider even listing the item.
3. Be Open To Negotiate
The most obvious thing to negotiate is the price.
Everyone has a rock bottom. Nobody will want to meet you in the middle. Especially if you start too high. You won’t even get any offers. Find a number you are comfortable at and stick to it.
Unless you just want the item gone and then you have an option of taking anything or waiting it out. Just take anything because once someone is there with cash in hand you can never guarantee that someone else will come. Take the cash. Take it even at a lower price than you imagined. Or not its your deal.
Be open to negotiate other details such as where the item will be picked up.
As I mentioned before I drove out 25-30 minutes to meet a kid to sell him my BMX. A few of my mistakes was dealing with a younger person. I know everyone is an individual and unique but younger people tend to be less rational. Something about their prefrontal cortex not being fully developed.
My second mistake was that I was dealing in an item I had no idea about.
See more about knowing what you are selling in THE FOURTH CURE: Guard thy treasures from loss from the The Richest Man In Babylon.
When the sale was not working out, my time was already wasted, my gas wasted, and my mood was frustrated.
I have since learned to qualify prospects better and to set up deals that I am okay with so I am not upset by it.
Depending on the item’s size, I have a Pick Up Only policy. Which I put on the listing so it is clear to potential buyers.
4. Be Clear When Making Arrangements To Show The Item
If you don’t give your personal address on the listing, that is fine. When you make contact with a buyer (I prefer email), then qualify them by asking them questions to make sure they are willing and able to buy your item.
Make sure you honestly answer any other their questions. If there are any defects about the item let them know in advanced before you waste everyone’s time when the make an appointment and then don’t buy it because you were deceitful.
I learned this next sales tip from my 2 1/2 days attempting to sell knives for Cutco.
When you are setting up a time to meet be specific.
Ask is 6:00 or 6:30 better?
Don’t just tell them that you are available whenever because it is never “whenever”. You have to make details even if you don’t care specifically when.
That way you have something definite to go with.
Also it is respectful to both parties time of the day to know that it won’t be surprising and inconvenient. This method of setting up things with a “this or that” works for what day you want to meet, what time, and just about anything else.
Bonus: This method helps when you and your spouse/date are trying to pick a place for dinner.
Guy: “Where do you want to eat?”
Girl: “Where ever”.
Dumb guy: gets frustrated.
Smart guy: “Sure, Pizza Hut or Subway?”
Boom! Now you are going places.
5. Contact Lead With Reminder On The Day Of The Sales Appointment
I have found that timing is everything when making a deal on Craigslist.
If at all possible make the deal on the same day as the first contact.
I have been on both ends of this. Once I was going to buy a terrarium because I wanted to get a bearded dragon. I think they are so cute!
I had found a guy selling not only his terrarium, but basically all the set up I would need.
Just add a dragon.
The problem was I didn’t have the money until that Friday. For him this turned out badly because Wednesday and Friday, I researched all the care needed for owning a bearded dragon. And realized it was too much for me. Mostly the feeding them live bugs part was what put me out.
The other time I was again ready to buy but needed to wait until Friday until I had the money. This time I was going to buy a lot of over 200+ books from a lady.
I had a plan to sell them on eBay. I was going to get the whole lot for $100. That is 50 cents a book. I was sure I could make my money back because a few of the books from her pictures were worth $10-20 alone.
However, again between Wednesday and Friday, she got cold feet and backed out on the deal. She said she was going to try to sell them at an estate sale the next week. She might have sold some, but I highly doubt she sold all of them. And she probably didn’t end up with $100 bucks.
Either way the point is make deals the same day.
If the appointment is not same day, make sure you contact the buyer (I usually text) on the day of the deal.
Give them a friendly reminder that you are still looking to make it happen and will see them at the agreed upon time. Many things happen in life. Be polite because if the buyer remembered, you don’t want to seem patronizing.
If they forgot, then you would not have made the deal.
6. Be Prepared
Some things you sell don’t need much preparation.
When I was selling my washer and dryer I made sure they were ready to go when the buyer arrived. In fact I made sure they were in good working order. There was a problem with the lid switch on the dryer. I knew how to work it, but knew it wasn’t going to work right that way once I sold it.
In fact the damn piece broke completely when I was checking it was still functional.
I don’t know if you have ever tried to buy a replacement part for a dryer but they seemed scarce.
Instead of fixing things people just buy new ones nowadays.
I could have ordered it online, but the sale was that day. I finally found a new lid switch replacement and installed it just in time for the guy to arrive and check out it was working properly.
With a vehicle make sure you have the title ready.
Also have any transfer documents to make sure the vehicle is legally theirs and that you don’t have to pay any future tolls they might go through. Find out any other documents you need in your state to make sure you don’t get into any hot water.
7. Ask The Client Their Story
This is a great thing to do via email to qualify the buyer.
If you can’t or don’t before the appointment, make sure you find their reason for buying when they are there.
This is necessary to know whether or not they are just “window shopping” or are ready to buy.
Finding this information out also gives you points to address when making your sales presentation while they are looking over the item. When they are sitting there looking like the want to buy it but are not yet committed, remind them why they are even there in the first place.
This helps them get to that “yes” you both want.
8. Show Any Flaws
With pictures. I mentioned this earlier but it bears repeating. It is just a waste of everyone’s time if they show up and find out that the item is scratched, dented, dinged or just missing a part.
Telling them first may turn off some prospects but they wouldn’t be actual buyers anyways once they got there.
Most people realize that when buying something secondhand that it is not perfect.
They know it is not brand new and deserve to be told about anything seriously wrong with it. This is especially important in the case of vehicles. You wouldn’t want someone driving away in something that could endanger their life because you tied on the bumper with some chicken wire.
9. Take A Test Drive
This specifically applies to vehicles.
However, any item that can be plugged in and turned on should be.
Show the buyer the product works.
Unless you are selling broken things. Some people do it for parts.
The test drive is proof that it runs and gives them an opportunity to take mental ownership. This is the same reason why car dealerships do this.
If you are selling a vehicle it is a good idea to learn from those who do it for a living.
10. Ask For The Sale
I learned this closing technique from Zig Ziglar.
Many times people make great presentations and then walk away without asking for the sale.
Be direct and say something like “So do you want it?”
This happened to me when I was selling our wine rack. The couple had driven over 30 minutes to come view it at my place. They seemed to like it and wanted it. But then they both stood there just looking at it.
I could see they were not sure what to do next. “So do you want it?” I asked.
And then boom! Sale complete!
It is important because it is an assist to the buyer to get them from “wanting” to “doing”. Plus it makes it clear to have it out in the open.