Sunday, September 25, 2011

Craigslist buyers won't commit to me !

Craigslist is a great alternative platform to eBay when selling stuff. You avoid all those annoying fees that come with listing on eBay. From the initial listing fee to the final value fee, eBay can take some of the fun out of selling on-line. And isn't it a great feeling when you're handed cash by a buyer knowing you actually get to keep every penny of it? But there is one big annoying drawback...Craigslist buyers can't commit! Trying to get one of these prospective buyers to commit is a little like wrestling with a greased's frustrating!

If you sell on Craigslist, I bet you know exactly what I mean. Part of the problem is that unlike eBay, a Craigslist buyer isn't locked in after they've committed to buying. With eBay, once you win an auction you pretty much have to pay or you'll face big trouble. An eBay buyer who backs out of a deal is subject to a string of automated e-mails from eBay and the threat of possible removal. But not so on Craigslist. It's a frustrating commitment-free zone where anything goes. Buyers can send you e-mails for days and weeks running you around. Bottom line is that you never know until the buyer pulls up to your house if you're getting paid.

Take for example these ceramic tiles I recently sold on Craigslist. They were left over from a home improvement project in my house. I listed all seventy tiles for $50 bucks-less then half what I paid for them at Home Depot. I received a huge amount of inquiries, many assuring me they would be right over to pick them up. But I was like the proverbial bride left at the one ever showed! Having no sale, I started to think I would be stuck using them to tile the dog house! Finally, after about five no-shows, a husband and wife showed up at my house and paid me my asking price. This isn't uncommon with a Craigslist sale.

Knowing Craigslist buyers can be illusive, I've developed a few strategies to try to reel them in. It starts with the inevitable e-mail that asks, "Do you still have them for sale? (I think this is a dumb question. I have them on Craigslist right? Well then, they're still for sale!) When I get the initial inquiry, I respond with a quick, " Yes, when do you want to pick them up?" This is a variation of the old salesman trick when they ask, "How many can I put you down for?" By asking them this, I am trying to cause them to commit right away. Sometimes this question scares them off. But if it does, they probably weren't going to buy anyway.

Making it convenient and easy to pick up is another good tactic. I'll inform the buyer that I'll meet them at a location close to their home. Occasionally when trying to land a really big dollar sale, I'll even offer to deliver the item right to their home. This can really grease the deal since the seller doesn't have to lift a finger. (Other then pulling the bills from his wallet!) I once sold an Apple computer to a private music teacher and drove the computer to his studio. While he was in another room giving a music lesson, I set the computer up for him like a tech support geek! After finishing his lesson, the teacher came out to the reception area and was tickled pink when he saw the computer up and running! Transporting the computer right to the teacher's place of business sealed the deal for me.

Lastly, I'll utilize a little psychological warfare on some prospective Craigslist buyers. When responding to e-mail inquiries, I 'll sometimes bluff and say that someone else may be coming over to buy it. I then tell the indecisive buyer that I'll sell it to whoever shows up first. Sort of the old "first come/first serve" rule, only there's no one else actually coming over. But by suggesting an imaginary competitor, I am trying to create a sense of urgency in the mind of the buyer. Hopefully this will motivate the indecisive buyer to jump on the deal.

What kind of strategies do you employ to get Craigslist buyers to follow through on a deal? They are a frustrating bunch, so if you have a trick I sure would like to hear it. E-mail me or send in a comment below! You should do it right now because it's y'know....first come-first serve! ; )
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  1. Me first, Me first. My favorite line when someone inquires about an item is..I've had many people inquire about it, but as of right now its still available. You should check Yahoo Groups for local selling groups (if you havent' already). I have 2 that I"m has been a great reselling group..other other is just so so.

  2. Thanks Kim, I'll check that out. "Me first!" LOL, that's so true......Dude

  3. I don't have any tricks but I will be sure to use the "when will you be able to pick it up" ploy. Recently i have had 3 buyers inquire on an item asking if it is still available and when i respond yes they send me an email directiong me to some website (like one was a adult dating site) It is so frustrating I dont put my email addy into my ad so i do not know why i keep getting spam.

  4. Great article Dude! I pretty much do just what you do. I tell them that "Wow, that was quick I just listed it and I have had 4-calls." I then tell them that I have someone who is coming after work, but I told her that if someone comes sooner that I will have to go with that person. So, basically making it a rush to get it. Like the Kim said above.. I don't know about the yahoo groups, but we have two for our area on Facebook. I will check out that Yahoo thing too. The more advertising the better. My husband and I have a deal. I buy the item, and if it needs to be cleaned up, he does that part. Then I photograph it and list it, and then take the calls and prepare for them to come and get it. Then the deal is that he has to deal with the person that comes to the door. That way they can't try the old "will you take $40" and I advertised it for $50. My husband just says, I don't think so, my wife said $50 and she's not" and that just gets that idea out of their head! Now.. if I can only stop reading these blogs, I might be able to sell some things.. LOL Hope this info helps.

  5. beckyp- For sure,lots of fraudsters out there spamming on Craigslsit. If you get the one that says his "secretary" told him about your ad and he wished to mail you a check because he's on business travel and blah, blah, blah...jut delete that. Its overseas fraudsters.

    GSA- I like the "that was quick I just listed it and I have had 4-calls". That's going into my rolodex! And using your husband to deal with the money exchange is genius too. Immediately shuts down the opportunity to badger him down in price... nice!

    Thanks you guys, keep em coming!

  6. Yup! That's all true too. That's the way we have it done here. I don't like dealing with people in person, and my husband doesn't mind it at all. So, when I speak to the person on the phone, they assume when they get here that they are going to deal with me. HA! My husband is a born scientist (actually studied it in school) -- we was an immunology/micro-biology major, so he truly is a scientist (okay, I know I am bragging, but I am proud of him). That's great for me because if you know a scientist, they are precise. Which means when I give him something to clean, he will clean every little thing about the item. Anyways.. it works out great! The one thing that sucks is that if for example we have a stroller and the buyer is like, so how does it fold out and does it have this feature. Oh boy.. we better know our knowledge on that item. It is Friday morning (6:25 am) got to get my son up for school. UGH! But, every Friday morning means I get to go to my local newspaper online and look at the garage sales scheduled for Saturday.. HOLY MOLY! .. Last week, I think we had all of 15 listed in the paper. This morning.. 57 ads! and that's just in the paper. Haven't even searched out Craigslist ads. Looks like everyone is busting out their Fall garage sales! YEAH! Yet, too many for me to handle. There are 4-subdivision wide garage sales. That saddens me.. I have to choose 1 of those subdivisions because I can't do them all, and oh goodness, which to chose, I love them all! Oh well. Over here we have Fall sales until Thanksgiving, and then it's shut down for the winter. Even if it's not cold, people have that holiday fever and they don't start sales up again until like end of March. Well, gives me time to save up money. Time to check out CL ads! How many ads are you seeing for this weekend dude in your area?

  7. I hate when the garage sales explode and multiply during the peak Fall weekends. Too many to get too! A little pre-planning by these folks would get them more buyers. If everyone has a garage sale on the same day, that spreads and dilutes the number of buyers. But they don't get that, right?

    Ha! Like your husband, I've been in the situation where I have to demonstrate to a buyer how to open and close a stroller that I supposedly used. Forgetabout it! I am all thumbs and look like a doofas! The seller looks at me skeptically thinking, "Isn't this his stroller? Why doesn't he know how to fold it up? " I usually mumble something about how my wife does this so I am not good at it, pretty funny! Tell your husband, I feel his pain!

  8. I recently found your site and I love it. I've learned so much.

    I've never sold anything on Craigs but I have made several purchases and here's a few of my pet peeves as a buyer.

    Some Craigsters will post an item, sell it and not take down the post. This has happened to me on a number of occasions and that's why I ask if an item is still available.

    Craigsters may post an item and not tell the whole truth so you make a trip to parts unknown only to find out that the 20-piece place setting you were interested in buying has chips and scratches on 5 of the pieces. (I've since learned to ask more questions but even then, I have run into a few surprises.)

    Selling furniture but failing to mention the dang drawers don't open; won't close; chipped; been left in a barn housing cows and smells like it too, etc. You get the pic.

    Putting pics of several pieces for sale only to find out that the one gnarliest item that is discolored and scratched is the only item being sold. Thus another reason for sending e-mail asking if item is available because some posters fail to update their listing.

    And my last is the garage sale listings. When a buyer says "something for everyone" and doesn't provide any inkling as to what is being sold, I pass on by. Waste of gas. And having a sale to sell Uncle Ron's well worn clothing, moldy books, chipped plastic plates and handless pots is not an estate sale, it's stuff for the city dump.

    As frustrating as it is for the seller, being a buyer isn't a cake walk either but most of the time, I do enjoy shopping on Craigs and have found several good buys such as a beautiful white armchair (unused), dining room set and several arm chairs. I've enjoyed meeting many nice folks too. So if I inquire about the item you're selling, I really want to buy it and I do not have a failure to commit. :-)


  9. Sandy- All good points, it's good to get the buyer's side. I thought someone would call me out on the "Is is still for sale question" I always take my listing down once it sold, but some sellers are lazy or forgetful.

    It's definitely "buyer beware" on Craigslist. So as a buyer you have to be willing to walk away from the item if you think it doesn't meet your expectations. It's happened to me, but that's part of the biz.

    The "Something for everyone" garage sale ad is also one of my big-time pet peeves! Its just kind of a lazy, fill-in-some-ad space cast-off slogan. I really want to walk up and say to them, "Hey I want to buy a carburetor for an 1974 AMC Gremlin. Could you point it out to me please? What? You don't have one? But your ad said you had SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE! That's false advertising!!!" I may say that one day, just to watch their reaction!

    Thanks for all your excellent points and I am glad you're enjoying the blog!....Dude :)

  10. My favorite ploy is the "only for today" price. I'll say, "It's $20 but only if you can pick it up today." Very often they can't pick it up that day but for some reason they then beg to pick it up tomorrow for that price :)

  11. Anonymous - Hey, I like that one, makes it seem like a one-time special offer, nice. That's a tip we all can use...Thanks!

  12. Telling a prospective buyer that someone else is interested and is coming for the item definitely helps weed out casual buyers and question askers. Unfortunately, Craigslist is very casual. But if you make a person feel like they might not get the deal because someone else will get there first, they will find time to take off work or do whatever they can to get the item before someone else.

    1. Nick-All very true. Causal is the key word with the Craigslist buyers. It's definitely a bit of a head game you have to play with them. Thanks for writing...Dude!