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A Guide to Effective Selling - by revdocjim

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Post Options Post Options   Quote revdocjim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: A Guide to Effective Selling - by revdocjim
    Posted: 06 March 2008 at 14:15
Tips for Selling Equipment at Dyxum.com:
Dyxum.com is a very unique place, and one of the things that makes it so is the Sell/Buy section of the forum. Over the past 18 months or so I have sold close to 90 pieces of equipment through this forum and have managed to observe and learn a few things in the process.

Bob Janes, our hard working moderator in charge of the Sell/Buy forum asked me to write up a short guide to making a good sales post and I am glad to be of service.

First some general principles.
1. Everything is based on trust! If I fail to earn the trust of potential buyers I won't be able to sell much of anything.

2. Most buyers are looking for a bargain. If my prices aren't equal to or below the average prices, very few people will show any interest. There are at least three lists of average prices that can be found from links in the sell/buy forum. You should also take a look at the Quick Guide to A-Mount Lenses. If you want to sell something, look at those prices and set your price cautiously.

3. If and when problems arise, always give the benefit of the doubt to the buyer, even if it means taking a loss. Otherwise you'll lose trust.

4. Make the sales post clear and straight forward. The potential buyer should be able to see, at a quick glance, what is for sale and how much it costs.

5. Make the sales post informative. Don't ask the potential buyer to do the leg work of hunting down the details. Anticipate what the buyer may want to know and provide that information up front. Telling people to request pictures or shipping information if interested is bad business. Put it all up front and then a fully informed potential customer can make a well informed decision.
________________________________________________________

Okay, now for some of the details.

Product Description:
   This is a tough one because you obviously want to describe your product in the best light, but you also must be honest. Making it sound better than it is might help you sell one item, but the aftermath can be truly miserable. Making a product sound a bit worse than it really is might not get you top dollar, but having a customer who gets something better than they expected is a truly delightful experience and leads to more sales.

Lenses:
   Most of my sales are lenses and they are relatively simple devices, so they're easy to describe. Here are the things your description should include.

1. External Condition
   Are there any scratches, chips, scuffs, dents or discolorations. If so, describe them in detail and if possible, show a picture of the imperfection. Make sure you are in good lighting when inspecting the lens.

2. Glass Condition:
   First of all, this is how you check a lens. I'll limit this to Alpha mount lenses. Get a spare white rear lens cap and cut out the center with a sharp knife or razor. Attaching it to a lens fully opens the aperture blades and allows you to look through the lens. Get a bright flashlight or LED penlight and shine it through the lens toward yourself. Carefully inspect from both ends, trying various angles with the light. You should be able to see each individual element once you get the hang of it.

   Most important are mold/mildew/fungus problems. Such lenses are not usable except for parts so they are in a completely different class. But always check closely before listing and state the absence of such problems.

   Secondly, look for dust or other small particles. All lenses have some, but exessive dust makes a lens less valuable. Try to describe it fairly. Is it visible without the flashlight, for instance when you open the blades and hold the lens up to a window or ceiling light? If so, how much. Often times just a few specs will be visible without the flash light but many, many more with the flash light. Describe both views.

   Thirdly, look for scratches. Of course, the most common ones are on the exterior surfaces of the front and rear elements. If present, describe their size and appearance. Show pics if possible. But often times lenses will have interior scratches as well. These are usually very hard to see, even with the flashlight. They can be the result of particles that get lodged in the aperture blades or lens cleaning. This latter type of scratch will never affect IQ, but can affect the value of the lens.

   Fourthly, look for residue from cleaning and for general clouding. Residue can be in the form of thin lines that resemble scratches or in the form of cloudiness. But even with lenses that haven't been cleaned, sometimes they get cloudy. This latter type of cloudiness can be the kiss of death for a lens, but the residue type thing will likely have no effect on IQ unless it is extreme.

So, when describing the glass, address any and all of these issues, either identifying problems that are present or assuring the reader that you have checked for such problems and they are not present.

3. Ring Condition:
Carefully rotate the focus and zoom rings. Feel for any unusual resistance, sloppiness, grinding, etc. and listen closely. Put your ear right next to the lens and rotate the rings. If there is anything unusual, report it. If not, assure the reader that the rings are smooth.

4. Aperture Blades:
   You've read the phrase; "blades are snappy" a thousand times; but what does that really mean? Well, with some small, narrow object like a key, tooth pick, or minus screwdriver, push the lever in the butt of the lens so that the aperture blades open. Then quickly let go of the lever. It should SNAP back into the original position and the blades should SNAP closed. If the lever stays where it is or the blades stay open then they aren't SNAPPY. If they slowly move back to the original position they aren't SNAPPY. If they move quickly back to the original position, but don't SNAP back, they aren't SNAPPY. They have to SNAP back into position when you let go or else you've got STICKY blades. If they SNAP back then you've got SNAPPY blades. By the way, don't use a pencil or pen to do this test. It can leave unsightly marks on the lever and lens butt.
   So, check the blades and then truthfully describe their condition. A lens with sticky blades will not be worth very much, since it will require an expensive cleaning job.

Pictures:
   Good pictures are a must when selling equipment. I found tips on this forum from our good friend, Chris Laker (aka dCap) on how to make a very cheap (free) light box for photographing equipment. I use a bookshelf, several sheets of white printer paper, a couple strips of tape, and one or two flash units in wireless mode. Fortunately my bookshelf is painted white, so I only have to cover the back portion, which is red. But just use as much printer paper as you need to make all the surfaces white. Then put the flash units in place, on their stands and set them to wireless mode. Experiement with angle and position. Then hang a couple sheets of paper over the front of the bookshelf with a gap between them that is large enough to allow a view of the equipment being photographed and you're ready to go. Here are some pictures of my setup.










I see that this is turning into more than a short description. Sorry!

When selling other items such as flash units or cameras you simply have to be as honest as possible. Cameras are very complicated, so just make sure you fully test it out before listing it and make clear reference to any problems. Also, always include mention of cosmetic issues.

Make sure to include a description of what comes with the item. For instance with lenses, are there caps? If so, are they original or third party? How about a hood? Filters? Case? Original box? Owner's manual and papers? Let the customer know up front whether these things are present or not. The same goes for cameras, flashes etc.

Pricing:
   The next major item is pricing. Put this in big, bold print. Preferably highlighted in color. Let people know how it compares to the average prices shown on the various lists. If possible, give equivalent amounts in various currencies, even if you are only accepting payment in one currency.

Shipping and Insurance:
   The next big topic is shipping and insurance. Do your homework ahead of time, and tell people how you intend to ship the item, how much it will cost to various locations and how long it will take. Also, explain whether you will require insurance or not, and how much it will cost.

Packaging:
   Pack photographic equipment very carefully. I regularly hunt down small boxes at the local supermarket for shipping lenses and the like. Then I often cut them down even further depending on what I'm shipping. I also am always on the lookout for bubble wrap and packing peanuts. One of the advantages of buying stuff over the phone, even from my local camera shop is that they use really nice packing materials and I always reuse them. Wrap the equipment in multiple layers of bubble wrap and then put lots of cushioning around it in the box. Make sure things are tight in the box so stuff doesn't move around. I like to wrap the entire box in duct tape as an added precaution against moisture. I've had several complaints about how long it takes to open my packages. :)

Payment:
   Then make sure and cover matters relating to payment. What type of payment will you accept? If there are fees, who is to pay them? How soon after payment will you promise to ship the item?

Communication:
   Finally, communication is really important. Tell potential customers how they can contact you. Always answer inquiries promptly. Seek to earn the trust of all potential buyers. Buying items through dyxum.com is actually a very risky thing to do. You send hundreds of dollars to someone you may not even know, and simply have to believe that they will keep their word. You have absolutely no legal rights or recourse if the seller fails to uphold their end of the deal. As a seller, I really respect anyone who is willing to trust me and send me their money so I do everything I can to honor that trust. I've found that one very good way to put people at ease after they've sent me their money is to take my camera to the post office and take a picture of the package after the postage has been affixed. Then I email that picture and a scan of the postal receipt with their name and address on it, to the buyer along with instructions for how to track the package online. (Actually this is also a form of self protection, because once I hand the package to the postal clerk I can no longer take full responsibility for it.)

Well, that just about sums it up. The only other thing I could add is to save your work. It's a lot of work putting one of these posts together with all the coding and pictures etc. So when you are about to do another one, don't start from scratch. Go find your previous post, select the edit function so that all the coding is visible, and just copy it. Then paste it into your new post and just change the parts that are different. It saves a lot of time.

I hope this has been helpful. And good luck with your sales!




Edited by revdocjim - 07 March 2008 at 04:06
Gallery A7S, A7Rii, Batis 18/2.8, 25/2 Sony 35/2.8, 55/1.8, 90/2.8M, 24-105/4, Minolta 135STF, 200/2.8 Blog
 



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Post Options Post Options   Quote pegelli Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 March 2008 at 14:33
Hey Jim : very useful and thanks.
I have never sold via Dyxum but have bought a couple of lenses and a filter that way. All have been good experiences due to stellar sellers who described the item faithfully, asked a fair price and upheld their part of the deal ! With this guide I might try the reverse one time as well. I'm still waiting for 2 M42 lenses I payed for in December that have been fumbled by UK Royal Mail but the communication between the seller (not his fault as all, he's gritting his teeth as I am) and me on that problem has been very good and the only thing we can do is wait

Mod's : you might want to pin this to the top of the topic, so it doesn't sink to the obscure higher numbered pages.
Mind the bandwidth of others, don't link pictures larger then 1024 wide or 960 pix high, see here
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Post Options Post Options   Quote brettania Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 March 2008 at 14:36
This thread is already a sticky.

Edited by brettania - 06 March 2008 at 14:37
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Post Options Post Options   Quote kiklop Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 March 2008 at 15:04
This is just a great job !
Thank you !!!
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Post Options Post Options   Quote glad2badad Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 March 2008 at 15:24
A very useful/helpful article. Thanks for sharing!   

One tip I'd like to add when photographing equipment...use a circular polarizer to control light reflections. For example, a camera body or a lens barrel look much better if the white reflections are cut back some.
http://www.misterbsphotography.com, A99, A7II, A77II, A700, Lens ... too many to list. :-)
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Post Options Post Options   Quote KonicaA3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 March 2008 at 15:37
This is great!

Thanks,

Keith
Sony A77ii | Sigma APO 75-300 F4-5.6 | Minolta 70-210 F4 | Tamron 18-250 F3.5-6.3 Di |Minolta 35-70 F4 | Minolta 100-200 F4.5 | Sigma 18-125 F3.5-5.6

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Post Options Post Options   Quote anderslynge Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 March 2008 at 16:02
The trust part is especially important IMHO.

I have skipped a couple of lenses even though they had interest, simply because the seller had no or very little posting history on this site.

When someone have posted for a couple of years, you kinda trust that they are legit
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Post Options Post Options   Quote my_photography Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 March 2008 at 02:12
Great stuff, Jim. With this, I am sure it will make the life of both the buyer and seller easier. Thanks for sharing.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote gsaronni Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 March 2008 at 09:22
Hi Jim

I already know the ability you have to redact selling posts and I recognise now the work you have done with this sticky post.

Thanks
35/1.8 | 50/1.4 | 50M | 100/2
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Post Options Post Options   Quote dogears Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 March 2008 at 09:53
Thanks a bunch for a wonderful write up. Can I order a lens from Japan please?
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Post Options Post Options   Quote X-R-M Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 March 2008 at 01:24
That is very nice and helpful for both sellers and buyers.
I never sold here, but one day I will and I will certainly refer to your article.
Thank you.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote uff Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 August 2008 at 23:24
If also the people in our local czech market followed these rules.
Thanx a lot.

btw: I will not buy/sell anything at dyxum, because of shipping costs...
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Post Options Post Options   Quote ricardovaste Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 August 2008 at 23:27
If you won't buy sell anything at dyxum because of shipping costs, then where the hell do you intend to buy/sell? I think the idea is that the buyer pays for the shipping, so selling shouldnt really be a problem
I photograph the moments in people's lives that mean the most to them: Richard Harris Photography
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Post Options Post Options   Quote outback88 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28 December 2008 at 03:25
I am curious as to why a lot of sellers will only sell to people that are based in their country, l have found there are few lenses that l cannot get in Australia ie (tokina 28-70 F2.6-2.8) but every now & then, they pop up here but l soon discover the seller will only sell to their country folk, l have 100% F/B on ebay, use paypal, pay very promptly - ASAP, not fussed on shipping costs, if l want it badly enough l will pay those costs. l realise there are bad eggs out there but shouldn't we be given a fair go - benefit of the doubt especially when using Paypal, why can't we have feedback system for buyers/sellers here on Dyxum?

Perhaps some counties have bad customs turnover but here in Aus l have gotten gear from the States in 5 days.
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