Built to Sell – John Warrillow Book Summary

Built to Sell – John Warrillow | Free Book Summary

Built to Sell – John Warrillow

If you focus on doing one thing well and hire specialists in that area, the quality of your work will improve and you will stand out among your competitors.


Don’t be afraid to say no to projects. Prove that you’re serious about specialization by turning down work that falls outside your area of expertise. The more people you say no to, the more referrals you’ll get to people who need your product or service

Don’t rely too much on just one client

Relying too heavily on one client is risky and will turn off potential buyers.

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Make sure that no one client makes up more than 15 percent of your revenue.


Owning a process makes it easier to pitch and puts you in control. Be clear about what you’re selling, and potential customers will be more likely to buy your product.

Don’t become synonymous with your company. If buyers aren’t confident that your business can run without you, they won’t make their best offer.Free book, podcast summaries


To sell your business, you need to demonstrate to a buyer that you have a sales engine that will produce predictable, recurring revenue.

Sales and sales reps

  • Take some time to figure out how many pipeline prospects will likely lead to sales. This number will become essential when you go to sell because it allows the buyer to estimate the size of the market opportunity.
  • Two sales reps are always better than one. Often competitive types, sales reps will try to outdo each other. And having two on staff will prove to a buyer that you have a scalable sales model, not just one good sales rep.
  • Hire people who are good at selling products, not services. These people will be better able to figure out how your product can meet a client’s needs.

About finding an advisor

Find an adviser for whom you will be neither their largest nor their smallest client. Make sure they know your industry.

Avoid an adviser who offers to broker a discussion with a single client. You want to ensure there is competition for your business and avoid being used as a pawn for your adviser to curry favour with his or her best client.

Using the right language

If you want to be a sellable, product-oriented business, you need to speak its language.

Change words like “clients” to “customers” and “firm” to “business.” Rid your website and customer-facing communications of any references that reveal you used to be a generic service business.

Scalable things meet three criteria

  • They are “teachable” to employees (like the Stapleton Agency’s Five-Step Logo Design Process) or can be delivered through technology;
  • They are “valuable” to your customers, which allows you to avoid commoditization;
  • They are “repeatable,” meaning customers need to return again and again to buy (e.g., think razor blades, not razors).

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