The true story of the Wolf of Wall Street

If I told you that Jordan Belfort is considered one of the best salespeople in the world, you’ll likely ask “who?”.  But if I tell you that we are talking about the famous Wolf of Wall Street, then no doubt the Leonardo Dicaprio film comes to mind. The film is based on a true story

Intrigued by what life was really like for Jordan Belfort?

From humble origins, Jordan started working at the age of 16 and earned his first $120 selling drinks on the beach having recognised there was an opportunity to bring refreshments to the beachgoers. According to some sources, he earned $20,000 from this venture – not bad for a teenager! 

It wasn’t long afterwards that he started his first business, as a door-to-door meat and seafood salesman. It was successful at first, and at one point he did have a number of employees, but later the business started to struggle and at the age of 25 he filed for bankruptcy.

It was then that Belfort started as a trainee stockbroker at L.F. Rothschild, but his time here was short-lived as he was let go when the firm suffered financial difficulties due to the Black Monday stock market crash of 1987. But shortly after being let go he founded the Stratton Oakmont company, selling venture company shares to people who had little knowledge of the stock market.  It was here that he earned the nickname the Wolf of Wall Street, and at the peak of his career, Berfort earned a staggering € 9.5 million a day.  He faced regulatory authority scrutiny from 1989, and 10 years later in 1999, he pleaded guilty to securities fraud and money laundering, and went on to serve 22 months of a four-year sentence. 

He has written several books about his life, and now he makes a living traveling the world giving motivational speeches, charging $300-$600 a ticket. 

“No matter what happened to you in the past, you are not your past, you are the resources and skills that you draw from it. This is the basis of all change.” – Jordan Belfort

Belfort developed his own sales methodology, called “Sales in a straight line”, which proved to be so good that any of his Stratton Oakmont sales people could earn up to € 1 million in annual commissions. It’s no wonder so many people wanted to work with him.

One of the peculiarities of the method is that it considers that all sales are equal, because they have 3 elements that do not change:

In every sale we find the same subjects: The product, the buyer and the seller. Belfort asserted that the product had to solve a real problem or be something that the buyer very much wanted. The salesperson had to identify the target buyer, and the seller must be able to connect with the customer, understand their needs and apply the method appropriately.

All people buy emotionally and not rationally. Although we all believe that we apply logical thinking when making purchase decisions, research shows otherwise. Therefore, we have to apply emotion to the sale. If we apply logic we will not be effective.

Every sale follows a path, in which we take the client from one point to the next. This might involve skepticism, denial, disbelief, fear, doubt … but it results with the same end, the purchase.

Another of the most important principles in the method created by Jordan is the call. The time of sale. He divides it into three parts:

THE OPENING

The first few minutes are critical, you must garner as much information from the customer as you can. Jordan suggests covering four key areas:

  1. Customer needs – not only in relation to the product but also any feelings or particular problems.
  2. Customer beliefs –  and we aren’t just talking about religion, but tastes, lifestyle, hobbies …
  3. Their financial parameters. There are people who would never buy a cheap car, or others who would only buy when an item is discounted or on sale.  
  4. A demonstration of empathy –  If the salesperson is able to empathise with the customer, understand their problems and even help them solve them, this will help them create an emotional connection and build trust, which is important to achieve the sale.

THE SALES PITCH

Many sellers delay the sales pitch for fear of being refused too quickly, thereby losing the opportunity. Jordan suggests that the sales pitch is a fast follow on from the opening, so that the customer’s last thoughts or comments can be addressed quickly. Some of the tips that Jordan offers to counter any objections are:

  1. Ask hypothetical answers: Such as “In a perfect world, where money was not a problem, would you buy?”. This can have the effect of removing a perceived barrier from the purchase.
  2. Demonstrate involvement: “Obviously, we both know that there is nothing on the market that offers what I am providing, right Jon?”
  3. Be empathetic: “I understand what you are saying. I’ve been there and I know what it feels like. That is why I am sure that what I offer you will help you solve your problem ”.
  4. Use the mirroring technique: repeating what the other person says as a question, emulating movements and tones.

THE CLOSE

At closing, the only thing that will separate you from the sale is the “objection.” This is usually because the client has to discuss it with their partner, or because it is very expensive and they have to think about it, or because it is a bad time … According to Jordan, all these excuses tell you the same thing, that the customer still does not trust you or your business.

In order to understand those objections, Jordan says we have to use a technique called “Looping.” Looping is basically repeating their last objection as a question, to really understand what is stopping them from buying and to be able to give you an argument that convinces you.

Jon: “Actually, it all sounds good, but I need some time to think about it”.

You: “Think?”

Jon: “Yes, it is a big decision I need to discuss it with my partner”.

You: “I understand that it is a big decision and it should be considered, but if I had been your agent in recent years and had

proven solid results, there probably wouldn’t be much to think about, right?”

Jon: “Maybe not”

You: “So Jon, let me show you my results. Give me 1% of your trust and let me earn the other 99%. We could start small. How’s that?”

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