The Books that Inspired Anti-Sell

Anti-Sell alt cover - bookshelfAt the end of Anti-Sell, there’s a ‘Further Reading’ section, recommending a bunch of books that the reader can check out beyond mine. And even though it might seem like a really lazy rather ingenious copy/paste job from the book (😉), I thought it made a lot of sense to share it on here, too.

Throughout the book I’ve mentioned numerous books and resources that can help you on your Anti-Selling journey. Here’s a list, with a bit more info about each of them, plus a few more for good measure.

A quick note: None of these authors paid me a fee to be included, nor do I get a commission if you buy any of them. I recommend these books 100% wholeheartedly – because I actually really like them.*

ReWork by Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson

ReWork book coverReWork is probably my favourite business self-help book of all time, and a big influence on Anti-Sell. Why? Because ReWork is also quite rebellious in nature: it goes against the grain of traditional business advice but makes excellent recommendations in spite of that. It was recommended to me by a client (thank you Scott of TestLodge!) and on the first listen (I bought the audiobook), I fell in love with it. While listening to it in the car, I used to scream “YES!!!” after sentences I agreed with – which happened a lot. And probably sounded weird if I had my car window open. But there we go.

Some of its takeaways include:

  • Other people’s failures are other people’s failures, not yours. So when people talk about the survival rate of freelancers, small businesses and startups, just remember: if other people fail, that doesn’t mean you will too.
  • Plans should be called “guesses.” I remember freaking out when I had to put together a business ‘plan’ for some funding that I was seeking in the early days of freelancing (if I remember correctly, it was funding to cover my first year’s membership at my coworking space). How do I know how my business is going to do next year or the year after that? And that’s precisely the point. Call them guesses. To quote the book: “Start referring to your business plans as business guesses, your financial plans as financial guesses, and your strategic plans as strategic guesses. Now you can stop worrying about them as much.”
  • Everything you do is marketing. This ties in very closely to the message of the book you are currently reading. Marketing isn’t defined by adverts and promotional materials – it’s literally everything you do. Every. Single. Thing. You. Do. Every email you send is marketing. Every invoice you send is marketing. Just because you’ve won a client, it doesn’t mean that the marketing stops there for them. Every action you take can leave an impression on someone – good or bad.

I could go on and on, but I’ll stop there (not-in-the-book note: I actually wrote about my biggest takeaways from ReWork – including the above points plus more – on this very blog a few years ago: here’s the link). If Anti-Sell has resonated with you, and you haven’t yet read ReWork, pick up a copy. I’m sure it will resonate with you as well.

While writing this book, Fried and DHH released a new book: It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work, which – as you can probably guess from its title – addresses the sensitive subject of work-life balance. It’s worth checking out as well.

> Buy ReWork on Amazon

The Pumpkin Plan by Mike Michalowicz

The Pumpkin Plan book coverThe Pumpkin Plan is a special book to me. Whether you’re just starting out, or you’ve been running a small business for a while and you’ve hit a rut, there are some great tips in it. As mentioned in earlier chapters of the book, it has advice on:

  • How to go niche when it comes to targeting clients.
  • Creating your own Assessment Chart, which can be used to score clients on certain criteria, in order to help you to detect which clients are the best-fit for you (not-in-the-book note: I’ve blogged about the Assessment Chart over on State of Digital).
  • Tactics for cutting bad-fit clients in a way that won’t cause any animosity, fallout or professional embarrassment.

Mike also has another good book called Profit First, where he recommends paying yourself first before paying bills, whereas typically we do the opposite (we pay our bills and then keep what’s left over as profit, however big or small that amount may be), so it’s worth checking out what he has to say on that as well.

> Buy The Pumpkin Plan on Amazon

To Sell Is Human by Daniel H. Pink

To Sell Is Human book cover“We’re all in sales now.”

In Chapter 2 of the book, I touched upon the phenomenon of the ‘‘typical’ salesperson, citing the movie Glengarry Glen Ross as a classic example. To Sell Is Human further investigates this somewhat old-fashioned stereotype, suggesting that salespeople of this nature are near-enough a thing of the past. If anything, we’re all in sales – especially these days. While we still have ‘obvious’ types of sales, such as the process of asking a client to give you money in order to provide a service in return, we might also conduct certain tasks or habits that may not seem like sales but totally fall under that category. In a broader sense, sales is the process of asking someone to part with their time, money or resource somehow, in order to get something back that benefits you. So in other words, sales is essentially the process of moving or persuading someone to take action. When Daniel conducted a survey asking people if they work in sales, he found that while one in nine people considered themselves a salesperson in the traditional sense, when it came to ‘non-sales selling’ or moving/persuading others, the ratio was much higher.

If Chapters 2 and 3 piqued your interest especially, and you’re interested in learning more about how sales has ‘shifted’ in its meaning and behaviour in the last few decades, then To Sell Is Human is worth taking a look at. A lot of what Daniel covers is backed up by psychological studies, and the book even includes selling tactics such as mimicry, the best style of positive self-talk, and in which order you should appear if you’re part of a series of agency pitches and you want the best chance to succeed. It’s an interesting read.

> Buy To Sell Is Human on Amazon

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Start With Why book cover“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Simon Sinek’s TED talk covering this topic is the third most popular TED talk of all time, having been viewed more than 40 million times on the TED website. In Start With Why he explains that most people in business talk about what they do, before saying how they do it, then lastly say why they do what they do. He then goes on to argue that the most inspirational people and businesses – think Apple, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Wright Brothers – start with why they do what they do, and then talk about the how and the what, i.e. the reverse of the usual order. Effectively communicating the “why” part of your core marketing message can make a huge difference on how you are perceived by others.

> Buy Start With Why on Amazon

Youtility by Jay Baer

Youtility book cover“Smart marketing is about help, not hype” – this is the core message of Youtility.

The book starts off with Jay using a real-life example of a swimming pool installation business coming close to going under as a result of the 2008 economic downturn. In an attempt to drum-up more business, the owner started writing blog posts that answered frequently asked questions and also covered issues and problems that his customers often had to deal with. He literally sat down and wrote blog content covering every single possible question someone might ask him. Over time, his website became a go-to source for all help on swimming pool purchasing decisions, with some arguing that its popularity has made it the world’s favourite go-to source on the subject. His efforts led to more customers for the business, and he also found that it led to better educated, easier-to-sell-to and therefore easier-to-convert customers.

The rest of the book explains how you can utilise Youtility – in the same way as the swimming pool business – and why it’s the best way to market yourself now and in the future.

> Buy Youtility on Amazon

The Highly Sensitive Person by Dr Elaine Aron and Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person by Dr Barrie Jaeger

HSP book coversI only necessarily recommend these books to people who resonated with the relevant subsection of Chapter 6 of the book. When I first discovered that I was an HSP (a Highly Sensitive Person), it was life-changing – not only because I felt like a freak growing up and thought that I was the only person who felt this way (these books revealed that this is far from the reality), but because Dr Jaeger’s book has a chapter in it that recommends self-employment as a viable career option for HSPs. And now I can confirm that he was right.

> Buy The Highly Sensitive Person on Amazon

> Buy Making Work Work for the Highly Sensitive Person on Amazon


When compiling this list, I realised something really sucky: it’s a very white male list, with only one woman author included. So if you can recommend any sales or freelancing books written by women and/or minorities then please do let me know, as I would love to read them. You can contact me at SEOno.co.uk/contact, tweet me at @steviephil, or leave a comment below.

* Ok, so while nobody paid/pays me to be included in this list, and they’ve all been included because I genuinely recommend them, each of the Amazon links in this post is an affiliate link, so I make a teeny-tiny commission if you do end up buying through them. That’s fair enough, right? I thought I’d best be honest and upfront about it just in case it were to cause confusion. Cheers!

No Comments

Post a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.