Book Reviews

Built to Sell by John Warrillow

Built to sell

About the Book

With valuable lessons woven together in a wonderful story, Built To Sell has SO much to offer!

This is right up there for me as one of the best business books I’ve read, and I love how you end up rooting for the protagonist as he seeks help from business mogel, Ted.

I also love the splattering of summary tips and lessons, even with little things like the difference between calling people ‘customers’ as opposed to clients.

Take it away, John!


Favourite Passages

  • “Don’t generalise; specialise. 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.” Chapter 2 – A Worthless Business?


  • “Relying too heavily on one client is risky and will turn off potential buyers. Make sure that no one client makes up more than 15 percent of your revenue.” Chapter 2 – A Worthless Business?


  • “We made sure the product or service was something clients would need on a regular basis so we could count on recurring revenue… Write down your five-step process and start talking to prospects about your standard service offering.” Chapter 2 – A Worthless Business?


  • “Don’t become synonymous with your company. If buyers aren’t confident that your business can run without you in charge, they won’t make their best offer.” Chapter 3 – Putting the Process into Practice


  • “Avoid the cash suck. Once you’ve standardised your service, charge up front or use progress billing to create a positive cash flow cycle.” Chapter 3 – Putting the Process into Practice


  • “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.” Chapter 5 – The Test


  • “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.” Chapter 5 – The Test


  • “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 rather than agreeing to customise your offering to fit what the client wants.” Chapter 6 – The Candidates


  • “You need at least two years of financial statements reflecting your use of the standardised offering model before you sell your company.” Chapter 7 – Growing Pains


  • “Build a management team and offer them a long-term incentive plan that rewards their personal performance and loyalty.” Chapter 8 – The Number


  • “Think big. Write a three-year business plan that paints a picture of what is possible for your business. Remember, the company that acquires you will have more resources for you to accelerate your growth.” Chapter 10 – A Blank Check for Growth


  • “Stop referring to this year’s financials as a ‘Forecast’. You need to communicate that you’re confident in this year’s projections. Instead, refer to your projections for this year as ‘Current Year’. By the time we get to the offer stage, you will be three-quarters of the way through this year and you want an acquiring company basing their offer on $5 million in revenue and $1 million in profit, not last year’s numbers. It’s a subtle shift but it’s important.” Chapter 10 – A Blank Check for Growth


  • “Service firms refer to their customers as clients and product businesses refer to them as customers… Using words like ‘client’ subtly communicates to a potential buyer that you still think of yourself as a service business.” Chapter 10 – A Blank Check for Growth


  • “Don’t issue stock options to retain key employees after an acquisition. Instead, use a simple stay bonus that offers the members of your management team a cash reward if you sell your company. Pay the reward in two or more instalments only to those who stay so that you ensure your key staff stays on through the transition [of being bought out].” Chapter 11 – Telling Management


  • “Tell them you’re proud of the growth you’ve achieved and that you’re at a point in your life where you’d like to create some liquidity for the value you’ve created so far and have an opportunity to participate in some of the future upside of the business.” Chapter 12 – The Question


  • “If you sell a consumable, start tracking your repurchase rate from existing customers. This will be a number that acquirers will use to calculate your projected sales into the future – and to calculate how much they’re willing to pay to buy your company today.” IMPLEMENTATION GUIDE


  • “Describe your sales cycle.

How many salespeople do you have?

Describe your cash flow cycle.

Who are your customers?

How do you know if they are satisfied?

How often do they repurchase?” IMPLEMENTATION GUIDE


Star Rating:


An amazing book which has given me SO much to think about with my own personal projects. No doubt it will do the same for you!


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