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NeverEnd
Nov. 30, 2009, 11:34 AM
I've been marketing a pony online for about two months now. Received quite a few hits; however, after I respond to email inquiries and tell interested buyers to call me to further discuss, their interest then stops. The tally so far is eight potential buyers lost.

My intention is to weed out the window shoppers, but coincidentally am I driving away potential customers by requesting that they call me for further information? Or have they all been just that: window shoppers with no real intention of purchasing?

What do you do with online inquiries? Do you prefer to speak with buyers directly or is incessant emailing acceptable? And to what point?

Thanks in advance for your input!

Smiles
Nov. 30, 2009, 11:55 AM
If they cannot call you to make an appointment to see your pony than they were never interested in the first place. If you feel you are scaring them away then ask for their phone # so you can call them instead and see what happens...

magnolia73
Nov. 30, 2009, 11:56 AM
I think a lot of people prefer emails to calling. Perhaps have an email ready to go that provides more details about the pony- show records, maybe some extra photos, details not in the ads- then you can cut and paste and save yourself time, even if you'd prefer the phone call.

LeeB10
Nov. 30, 2009, 12:05 PM
Post a link to a video of the pony as well. Pictures, video, extra details all help, especially in times like these.

Beam Me Up
Nov. 30, 2009, 12:14 PM
I think you'll always get more inquiries than visits (since most buyers email a bunch, then mapquest and settle on a few to try), you probably aren't doing anything to drive them away.

I usually do email back, though. At least the simple questions you can get out of the way, and then add your number to the bottom if they'd like to discuss further.

As for me, I am happy to answer all questions and set up the entire visit on email, which seems to be the preference of younger buyers, or do it over the phone, whatever the buyer prefers.

When I've sold horses that had complicated "up front" info to disclose I have usually written it up and added it to all email inquiries I replied to. For me, this was easier than having to recount it on the phone to everyone, and more consistent in terms of tone and details.

kellyb
Nov. 30, 2009, 12:38 PM
I think a lot of people prefer emails to calling. Perhaps have an email ready to go that provides more details about the pony- show records, maybe some extra photos, details not in the ads- then you can cut and paste and save yourself time, even if you'd prefer the phone call.

Agree. Then if they have questions after that, have them call.

BelladonnaLily
Nov. 30, 2009, 01:01 PM
One reason, as a seller, I prefer to deal with email for the initial correspondence is that for some reason, I tend to attract alot of (really nice) people that talk ALOT. I have spent up to an hour on the phone with people that really seem more interested in telling me about their horses (really, people, I am not buying from you...you are supposed to be buying from me!) and how great their kids ride and who they ride with and who they know. I've even had potential buyers call me to tell me they AREN'T interested but still insist on keeping me on the phone and talking incessantly. These are really nice people but come one, I don't need to hear about YOUR horses.

So really, I'd use the email to its full potential until you have to make voice contact...the less that waste your time on a phone conversation, the better.

gasrgoose
Nov. 30, 2009, 01:12 PM
In this market, I would send as much info as I could to as many people as I could. Even if they are "window shopping", they might talk to someone at their next show that is looking for exactly what you have. But if you don't share the info they won't know about your pony.

I'd email the 8 people who didn't call and give them some more info.

Coppers mom
Nov. 30, 2009, 04:03 PM
For whatever reason, more an more people seem to prefer to e-mail and set up an appointment than call. I can think of only 2 in the last year that called and said "I'd like to set up an appointment for such and such a date", the rest have been e-mails. And these aren't people inquiring about cheap as dirt horses either.

People get busy, people forget, and suddenly there's no phone call. What we've started doing is answering anything they ask in an e-mail, then put the phone number and website address under our name when we sign off. That way, they can continue to e-mail, call to chat, or just browse through the website to see what else they may be interested while coming up. Pretty much, we cover all of our bases so that no matter what the seller wants or feels comfortable with, the information is there.

Dooner
Nov. 30, 2009, 04:33 PM
Personal confession here, but I get this from my mom, so there are at least 2 of us out there. I get nervous when I have to call strangers on the phone. I'm a grown woman and I generally put on my big girl panties and make the call, so this isn't a psychologic pathology or anything. But in this market, if I can try 3 identical ponies, I'm going to start with the 2 where I can do more, and start feeling comfortable with the seller, via email.

trubandloki
Nov. 30, 2009, 04:54 PM
Dooner there are at least four people with the same issue. I am one of them. And I have a friend with the same issue.

I agree, if I was horse shopping and I had similar animals that did not require me to call I probably would start with those.

shawneeAcres
Nov. 30, 2009, 04:56 PM
Some people prefer email, I know I do just because I don't have time to "chat" for an hour! I sell a lot of horses, and many people I never speak with until they actually are here to see the horse. Everything done via email. However, out of 10 emails, 1 MAY be serious! That is the way it works when marketing horses. Marketing takes a LOT of time and effort. it is not for the faint of heart! And the sale doesn't usually happen to the first inquirer. Most of my sales though happen to one of the first three people to actually come and see the horse, aprtially because I "Screen" the buyers well to make sure the horse is really what they want/need. No sense in wasting my time or theirs if it is not a possible good match! Have sold three in the past month, so buyers are out there. The prices I am getting ARE lower than a year and a half ago though, the economy has hit the price range I sell horses in harder than the more expensive horses.

Lucassb
Nov. 30, 2009, 04:57 PM
One of the first rules of selling is: Whenever possible, accommodate the buyer's transaction style, rather than the seller's.

A lot of people are accustomed to doing business online these days. If people want to gather details about your "product" (horse/pony) via email, why not give them what they want?

It's quite easy to put together a standard email that can be cut & pasted into a reply - or at least a link to send them to the same info on your website, with an easy, clear way to contact you for more details.

Remember that a lot of people do their online horsey shopping outside of work hours. If they come across your ad at 10pm, they are more likely to send an email than to pick up the phone and call.

Working people may understandably want to limit personal phone calls of this nature while at the office, so insisting that they call you even to get the basics makes it a lot harder for them to contact you - you'd have to hope they either call the minute they get out of work or wait until the weekend, etc. It's frequently much easier for those folks to discreetly check their email during the day to get the info they are looking for.

The market is tough enough right now - don't make it tougher on yourself by making buyers think you are harder to deal with.

AnotherRound
Nov. 30, 2009, 05:52 PM
The buyer is always right! If you start out interacting with your buyers online, keep the communication which works until you determine THEIR level of interest. Respond by email with more information: enough to address their concerns and present your horse as a potential match for them: Show info, history, health, winnings, and pictures and videos. At the end, give full contact information, or, at least enough information for them to contact you (and not find your farm all by themselves) to set up a viewing, which should be their next step. Offer to talk with them on the phone, offer to let them email you back and make and appointmet with you via email.

I have gotten my last three jobs via email, at least everything through to the in person interview, with out having a phone conversation. You can provide enough info for the buyer to determine if they want to try this pony or not via email. If that's what they want, do it, and, its probagbly what they want, because they are searching online.

Czar
Nov. 30, 2009, 06:06 PM
Online marketing is wonderful - so much less "work" but it comes with it's downfalls, the primary one being that you WILL get tirekickers.

I market all my horses online and answer all emails I receive and don't take it personally if I never hear back. You have to keep it in perspective...8 emails is NOT 8 potential buyers...more likely somewhere around 2.

Noctis
Nov. 30, 2009, 06:59 PM
I honestly prefer to deal in email as opposed to the phone..I'm also a "phone hater", but I can deal with it...mostly its my work hours. I work during the day, and I hate dealing with stuff on the phone in the early evening because I'm either A. Riding/Horse stuff or B. Being with my 2 little kids. So by the time they are in bed, its a little late for phone calls (politely at least). So email it is, because its more flexible.

yellowbritches
Nov. 30, 2009, 07:21 PM
Dooner, I have the same issue...I HATE talking on the phone unless it is to people I am close to (closest friends, sister, mom, etc). I am better about it now, but I have to be!

OP, when I am selling, if a potential buyer contacts me via email, I continue the conversation via email until they either come, ask me to phone them, or phone me. If a potential buyer calls me first, I deal with them via the phone. If a potential buyer emails but asks that I call them to discuss, that's what I do (I may email back first and ask for the best time to call them or at least tell them that I will be calling at such and such a time).

I think most people who email are either shopping late in the evening when work and family are done and find emailing the most convenient form of communication (if someone is shopping online at 11pm, you really don't want them call, right? ;)), or, as others have said, they are emailing during the day when they have time, but might never really have a good time to have a personal phone call.

As others have said, do it the way they want to do it. If they email with questions, email them back with answers. If you really, really want to chat on the phone, as if it is ok if you call them and WHEN you should call, then call them then. But I think it is ALWAYS best to let the potential buyer lead you...you got to woo them a bit...there's a lot of horses out there right now. If you want to sell, you've got to be a willing to go the extra mile (or several miles).

Thomas_1
Nov. 30, 2009, 07:29 PM
I would never sell to someone who can't be bothered to phone you.

I would never personally sell to someone who I can't chat to and ensure they're to provide a suitable home and can match the abilities and potential of the horse.

By all means the initial contact could be email but there comes a point for me when I need to speak to any prospective owner.

I wouldn't personally lose sleep about "losing" those hits. IMO they're not genuinely good sales leads.

Coppers mom
Nov. 30, 2009, 07:55 PM
If you're getting a ton of e-mails, but no actual buyers, check your ad. I mean, we sell a ton of horses, and only once in a while do we get a stray "what the heck?" e-mail. Probably 90% of the inquiries are serious and lead to someone coming out.

Make sure you have a ton of pictures and videos, and make sure that they are excellent quality. This will cut out the people just looking at pretty ponies, and if you start with a good video, you won't have to deal with people asking you to make another one.

Update the ad, a lot. With the young horses or OTTB's, we'll video on almost a weekly basis because they will look like a completely different horse from one week to the next. There's no reason to show outdated photos or videos when your horse has actually gotten better. If the horse progresses, shows, or goes schooling somewhere, put that in the ad so the buyers know what the horse is doing now, not last year. A link to show records is helpful, but I know sometimes sites don't allow that.

Finally, check the price. If the horse is really inexpensive, you're going to get a lot more of the "I know it says the horse has never jumped because he's purely a dressage horse/injured/whatever in the ad, but has he jumped?" types of e-mails. We've gotten to the point where we usually don't even advertise the horses for under $5,000 because that seems to be the price that people stop sending silly e-mails at.

EquineRacers
Nov. 30, 2009, 08:20 PM
I have sold well over 40 horses so I have much experience in this department. I prefer e-mail, this allows me to pass information back and fourth to weed out the window shoppers, the people who are not an apprioate match for the horse, or something I just think it wont work out for one way or another, etc. Most of the time we will set up and date and time to meet thorough an e-mail and the first time I ever talk to them in usually in person! I have also done some compelete internet deals and never spoke to the person. It has all worked out.

However, phone calls I have found are a bit more personal and does allow you to build a relationship right then and there, but I don't think its enough to really make or break a sell.

buschkn
Nov. 30, 2009, 09:17 PM
I much prefer to deal with people by email when both buying and selling, personally. I work a very erratic schedule- sometimes night shift, sometimes day shift, etc. So calling and talking to someone, or having them call me, is often rather inconvenient for my sleep schedule and when I'm awake I am usually pretty busy. Email allows me to ask/answer questions on my own time frame, when it is convenient and the other party can do the same.

I agree that it is up to the buyer how they want to proceed.

SkipChange
Nov. 30, 2009, 09:27 PM
I'm joining the group that's nervous to talk to people on the phone! E-mail has many advantages from both sides. I have trouble remembering all the questions I want to ask in a phone call because I get nervous sometimes. Also, if I can have what the seller's answers are WRITTEN DOWN it makes it a lot easier to remember the facts and not start exaggerating the horse's abilities in my mind. When I do have to call someone about a horse I end up writing an "email" first and then just reading it over the phone. Plus its a lot less awkward in email if something comes up that is a deal breaker.

GGsuperpony
Nov. 30, 2009, 10:13 PM
If I were really interested in buying something, I wouldn't be turned away so easily. Certainly something as simple as a request to talk on the phone wouldn't deter me. So I would say these are probably window-shoppers...

Fairview Horse Center
Nov. 30, 2009, 10:28 PM
Most of the communication I have had with buyers is thru email - sometimes all of it. I am quite happy with that as I can respond at a convenient time midnight, 1 AM, and not when I am holding a horse for a farrier, or being asked to help out a boarder.

YankeeLawyer
Nov. 30, 2009, 11:00 PM
One of the first rules of selling is: Whenever possible, accommodate the buyer's transaction style, rather than the seller's.

.

I agree. I always respond to emails by email but make clear the potential client is welcome to call me with any questions. At some point I do want to talk on the phone though (and preferably meet the person) because it is hard to tell by email who you are dealing with - and many buyers do not even provide a name (or last name) in their emails. A number of people might offer wonderful homes - but unless they give the seller an idea of what their goals are and their program, the seller has no way of knowing that. These things are very important to me as a seller.

NeverEnd
Dec. 1, 2009, 12:06 AM
I'm really glad I posted on this topic. Thanks everyone for your replies. Think I'll begin a new approach. :)

gasrgoose
Dec. 1, 2009, 09:38 AM
If I were really interested in buying something, I wouldn't be turned away so easily. Certainly something as simple as a request to talk on the phone wouldn't deter me. So I would say these are probably window-shoppers...

Or they are wanting to deal with someone on their terms. We are currently buying another pony. And though we think he is great and has all the potential to compete with the best, he is NOT the only pony available. Actually, unless you are selling a Champion from Devon, Indoors or Pony Finals there is most likely another very similar pony available. There are almost too many ponies to choose from, green ponies, made ponies, etc.

At the 2nd week of the Atlanta Fall Classic, there was one girl showing 4 ponies that were all on trial for potential purchase. These were not "local" ponies, they were winners from big "AA" shows, ribbon winners from indoors etc. That inicates the current market conditions to me. You either do things the buyers way or you keep the pony for yourself, because there are plenty of others just as nice as yours with sellers trying to accomodate the buyer.

horsetales
Dec. 1, 2009, 11:11 AM
I agree with the others, use e-mail to answer all of their questions. I always end with letting them know that I'ld be happy to answer anything else via phone or e-mail. We just sold a couple and we didn't speak until their visit.

hntrjmprpro45
Dec. 1, 2009, 01:06 PM
Buyers are funny- I have had some people send nearly 20 emails, drive out half way across the country, try a horse out and tell me they love the horse but aren't ready to buy. Then I have had some people call/email me once, come out and buy the horse the same afternoon. You just never know with some people.

I prefer email, mainly because I have a written record of what I told them (handy if you have multiple people interested or multiple horses for sale) and what they asked. I am also very happy to speak with them over the phone as well. It seems like the younger generations prefer email and older generations prefer phone calls so I wouldn't rule out either!

gettingbettereveryday
Dec. 1, 2009, 03:31 PM
As a buyer, I prefer telephone conversations because I can suss out lies in about two seconds flat if I can hear the seller telling me the information. I just get the person chit-chatting, and all too often, they will let little inconsistencies slip into the discussion. Also, I want them to ask ME questions about my experience and my horse ownership ethos. I want to feel like they're not just dumping the horse on the first person that happens to come along--that's a big red flag to me.

I recently purchased a new horse, and I looked at a ton of ads, made a half-ton of calls, and test-rode exactly three horses. In the process, my trainer and I weeded out a half-ton of unsuitables, another 99 percent of the remaining, and by the time I went to test-ride, I would arrive with a checkbook and contract in hand, just in case it worked out.

The first horse would have been perfect, but she was lame and too short. The second horse sounded and looked perfect, but she had a sneaky spook on her--something I was not in a position to deal with. The third was exactly as advertised and as described in the telephone conversation. The seller was upfront about his deficiencies and strengths, and he performed like a champ in the test ride. I put a deposit on him that day and brought him home a week later. He's still performing like a champ, and he's still exactly as the seller described him. The telephone portion of my research was invaluable, but I recognize that I'm not the norm.

goldponies
Dec. 2, 2009, 12:00 AM
I agree with those that say the people who call sometimes keep me on the phone forever. I am email all the way girl. Sold a 40K horse 6 states away and never spoke to the people by phone. Keep the emails, ask that they call and if they don't it's ok.

barndad
Dec. 2, 2009, 10:44 PM
As a potential purchaser I am amazed that it is so difficult to get video from people who have a pony for sale. So, I would definitley have those video links ready. Tough to make a road trip from pics and a phone conversation only unless there is a relationship there. Also be ready to have the show record accessible with USHJA #'s etc. if it applies to the situation.

*Liz*
Dec. 3, 2009, 07:42 AM
Personal confession here, but I get this from my mom, so there are at least 2 of us out there. I get nervous when I have to call strangers on the phone. I'm a grown woman and I generally put on my big girl panties and make the call, so this isn't a psychologic pathology or anything. But in this market, if I can try 3 identical ponies, I'm going to start with the 2 where I can do more, and start feeling comfortable with the seller, via email.

*Nods* I am the same way. I DETEST making (or taking!) phone calls from people I don't know - this even extends so far as ordering pizza. I don't really know why I hate it so much, but I do.


OP - When selling horses in the past on the internet, I ran into basically the same situation. I think a lot of people really are interested, even if they have no intention to buy (or even come LOOK at the horse!) I think it's best to provide as much information via email as a buyer requests, but if you can't get them on the phone to schedule a face to face meeting with you and your horse I'd color that one a "looker," not a "buyer" and move on.