Last week I shared some of the greatest teachings of Sadhguru an enlightened Indian Guru.

This week I’m sharing the secrets of influence, persuasion and sales from the convicted criminal Jordan Belfort AKA “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

WHO IS JORDAN BELFORT “THE WOLF OF WALL STREET?”

Jordan Belfort is a former New York stock broker who became famous in 2013 when “The Wolf of Wall Street” movie came out based on his life story (starring Leonardo Di Caprio), and it showed off his past exploits “partying like a rock star and living like a king”, banging hookers, cheating on his wife, doing cocaine, crack, quaaludes and other drugs, driving Ferrari’s, flying Helicopters, sailing yachts, living in a New York penthouse and running his company Stratton Oakmont like a cult leader.

Jordan made over $200 Million Dollars/$50 Million a year by calling up investors and convincing them to invest in worthless IPOs and penny stocks, by lying through his teeth (and encouraging his employees who worshiped him to do the same), money laundering and a bunch of other illegal and unethical things, making himself filthy rich in the process.

Jordan didn’t start off that way however, nor did he become a stockbroker or go to Wall Street with the intention of ripping people off. Instead it happened over time as he became more and more successful, greed overtook him, and his ethics started flying out the window. He said to Piers Morgan in a 2014 interview:

“You don’t lose your soul all at once. You lose it a little bit at a time incrementally. Tiny imperceptible steps. Before you know it you’re doing things you never thought you would do.” – Jordan Belfort

In 1998 Jordan was sentenced to 22 months in jail after being convicted of money laundering, stock-market manipulation and securities fraud, and was ordered to pay his clients back nearly $100 million of the $200 million that he stole from them.

Since getting out of jail Jordan now makes his living as a motivational speaker at seminars all over the world (making a minimum of $30, 000 per speech), as a sales trainer, and from the royalties he gets from The Wolf of Wall Street movie.

Regardless of what you think of Jordan Belfort, whether you think he’s a ‘winner’, a ‘loser’, smart, interesting or an asshole – I don’t care. It’s irrelevant. The fact is that he’s a master of influence, persuasion, manipulation and sales, and this article isn’t actually specifically about him either.

Instead this article is a summary of the strategies and techniques taught in his $2, 000, 10 DVD “Straight Line Persuasion” course.

In addition to spending over 15 hours watching and studying the material in the Straight Line Persuasion course, I’ve also watched interviews and seminars with Jordan on YouTube in preparation for this article to see if there was anything else not included in the Straight Line Persuasion course that you could benefit from.

I’m confident it’s all here.

The techniques that follow are highly effective and proven to work for anyone. As Jordan said in the DVD series, using this system he took some of the dumbest kids in America, people with no brains and no talent, and turned them all into multi-millionaires. If it can work for them, it can work for you.

In fact, Jordan starts off the DVD series by making a bold claim:

“You will close anyone who is closeable.” – Jordan Belfort

These techniques can be used to convince someone to buy from you, to hire you, to invest in you, to make a deal or to sign with you. They can also be used ethically or unethically. You can get people to do things they should (like getting your kids to do their homework or to eat their vegetables) or to do things they shouldn’t (like buying something they don’t need or signing something they shouldn’t).

Let’s get started…

What is straight line persuasion?

The Straight Line Persuasion system is about:

  • Influence
  • Persuasion
  • Sales

Jordan called his system Straight Line Persuasion because just as the shortest distance between any two points is a straight line, you are trying to take a customer from 1-10 and get them to buy or sign as quickly as possible without any wasted time.

Straight Line Persuasion is about goal oriented selling instead of random conversations that go nowhere.

The 3 keys to success in Straight line Persuasion

The 3 keys to success of the Straight Line Persuasion system are:

  1. Developing rapport with the customer
  2. Asking specific questions to gather intelligence and to understand the customers needs
  3. Controlling the sale by keeping it on the straight line (every time the customer tries to take the conversation away from the sale by talking about something irrelevant like the weather or their weekend, you quickly bring it right back)

Buyers vs non-buyers

Your goal as a salesperson is to:

  1. Find the right people to speak to
  2. Weed out the people who aren’t right

You are NOT trying to turn non-buyers into buyers.

Don’t waste your time making a presentation to someone if they:

  • Don’t want or need your product
  • Shouldn’t be buying (because the product or service isn’t right for them)
  • Can’t afford your product

Don’t worry if you can’t close someone either. Some people are never going to buy. They won’t buy from you and they won’t buy from anyone else. Your goal is simply to close everyone who is closeable.

The only time you should be concerned is if someone doesn’t buy from you but they do buy from someone else because that means that there is something wrong with your sales process or presentation.

If that’s the case, you need to specifically identify what the problem is and work on it.

You can assume in any given room of 100 people:

  • 30 are ready to buy right now. These are people that know they have to make a decision quickly and are motivated to buy now
  • 30 are still shopping but are motivated to buy
  • 30 are curious, “just looking”, maybe they’ll buy today, maybe they’ll buy tomorrow, they’re not in a rush
  • 10 were dragged there by someone else, they don’t want to be there and they will never buy from you

Your job is to spend time with the top two motivated groups of buyers whilst avoiding wasting your time with the unmotivated bottom two.

You need a script

ALL SALESPEOPLE NEED A SCRIPT. It’s non-negotiable. No matter how good you are.

Your script:

  1. It should be no more than one page
  2. It needs to be customized to suit your particular field (so if you work in real estate it’s going to be different than if you work as a stockbroker)
  3. It needs to be memorized and you need to be able to read from it without sounding like you are reading from it (like a great actor). This is important: If you call a customer sounding like you are reading from a script or if the customer knows you are reading from a script you are done.
  4. You need to read your script back to yourself 100X out loud because each word on your script is absolutely crucial and it needs to be perfect. You need to know when to lower your voice, when to pause for effect, which words to emphasize, and which words to run together
  5. Create urgency in the last paragraph
  6. Finish with a soft close “sound fair enough?”
  7. Your script must be constantly evolving and improving too. It’s a work in progress.

Cold Calling: 3 things you must establish within 4 seconds 


“When you pick up the phone you become as powerful and as successful as the most powerful CEO in America.” – Jordan Belfort

When you cold call someone you can be anyone you want to be, but you only have 4 seconds to establish 3 things.

You are:

  1. Enthusiastic as hell
  2. Sharp as a tack
  3. An expert/authority figure (People want to work with the expert, the top guy/girl in the field that can help them to achieve their goals and take control of their life)

Tonality 

“At the highest level sales is about the transference of emotion. Specifically the emotion of certainty.” – Jordan Belfort

Without a doubt one of the most important elements of Straight Line Persuasion is TONALITY.

When it comes to influence and persuasion your tonality is everything. By using certain tonalities you make people feel specific emotions and that’s important because it’s the emotion you create in someone that ultimately closes the deal. People buy based on emotion and then they justify it later with logic.

When you speak to someone on the phone your tonality should sound like that of a friend, not like a stranger or a salesperson. Don’t say you care. Imply it with your tonality. Don’t say “trust me”. Imply it with your tonality.

Imply with your tonality that you are:

  • Trustworthy
  • Empathetic
  • Have their best interests at heart
  • You care

Important tonalities

  • Scarcity/Secret (quiet, hushed tonality). If you want someone to listen you YELL. But if you want someone to REALLY LISTEN you whisper. By lowering your voice and whispering, you imply you have a secret, something scarce.
  • Certainty: Most people don’t have a sense of certainty so if you do people will listen
  • Disarming

Always think about how to use your tonality to create emotions within the customer:

“The reason for the call is that we have a situation right now…” (hushed tone, implying something scarce, a secret)

“If you do even half as well as my other clients…” (total certainty)

“You’re going to be very, very impressed” (utter sincerity)

“Sound fair enough?” (reasonable tone)

Play with your body language too in order to better convey and support your tonality over the phone. For example: When you narrow your eyes it becomes easier to whisper. When you put both of your hands out it in front of you as if to say “it’s OK” it helps to develop a disarming tonality.

How not to build rapport with your customer

One of the biggest mistakes most salespeople make when trying to develop rapport with their customers is that they talk about their hobbies/interests.

Wrong!

When a customer starts talking to you about their holiday in New Zealand you don’t start talking to them about that and go off into no mans land.

Instead of talking to the customer about their hobbies and interests (or anything else irrelevant to the sale) you build rapport by demonstrating that you are an expert and a person that can help them to achieve their goals.

Remember why you are talking to a customer. You are there to make money. You are there to close. You are there to sell. That’s it. You can talk about their holiday or go out for a drink AFTER the sale is made but not now.

How to sell a pen

One of the most famous scenes in The Wolf of Wall Street movie is when Jordan asks his stockbrokers to “sell me this pen.” But no one seemed to know how to do it.

Neither did I.

I learnt the secret however by watching an interview on YouTube in which Piers Morgan asks Jordan how to do it and Jordan said that the biggest mistake most salespeople make when trying to sell a pen (or anything else), is they try to sell you on the benefits and features of the product:

“This pen is great!”

“This pen is the best!”

“This pen can write upside down!”

Do not try to sell a customer by listing the benefits and features of your product!

Instead of trying to sell someone on the benefits and features of your product, first ask the customer certain specific questions to find out what they’re looking for, and to determine their buying strategy.

Only then once you know what the customer is looking for, can you provide a solution to their problems.

Asking Questions

Your job is to ask questions to identify your client’s ‘why’.

What is your client looking for?

What is motivating them to want to make a purchase?

Write down the perfect questions for your specific industry and memorize them.

When you ask questions ask permission before you start and always start with big picture questions and end with specific questions:

“I just want to ask a couple of quick questions so I don’t waste your time” (the unspoken words in your tonality are “I’m here to help”)

“Just a couple of quick questions so I can serve you better” (Don’t say “is that OK?” because it doesn’t convey authority)

Whenever you ask the customer a question it’s always implicit in your tone:

  • I’m just like you
  • I care
  • I’m trustworthy
  • I have your best interests at heart

Examples of good questions to ask:

  • What would you change or improve about your current product/service/source?
  • What’s your biggest headache with…?
  • What’s your ultimate objective?
  • What would be your ideal program?
  • How long have you been…? (wanting to buy a home, wanting to buy a Porsche, wanting a new TV)
  • Of all the factors, what’s most important to you?
  • Have I asked about every detail that’s important to you?

And if someone is currently using a similar product you need to find out:

  • What they like about the product
  • What they don’t like about the product

Positives vs Negatives

When someone is considering buying something they’re also running an unconscious mental calculation as to the positives vs negatives to buying.

Your job is to provide the customer with enough positive beliefs and reasons to buy so that these outweigh the negatives in their mind, the scales will tip and they will buy.

BUYING BELIEFS

Everyone has a unique buying strategy and you don’t know if they are:

  • Motivated logically
  • Motivated emotionally
  • Afraid of making a bad choice
  • Have a limiting belief to buying

Everyone also has different beliefs about buying and if you want to sell someone something you need to ask questions to identify what those beliefs are:

“I’m afraid of making a mistake”

“I don’t buy from people or companies I don’t know and trust”

“I don’t buy unless the risk/reward ratio is heavily in my favor”

In addition, many people have been taught to distrust salespeople and they have been burnt by salespeople.

Because you don’t know what it’s going to take, you’re going to need to do everything:

  • Create an airtight logical case
  • Create an airtight emotional case
  • Build up enough positive beliefs and reasons to buying
  • Break through their limited buying beliefs
  • Eliminate all of their reasons not to buy
  • Having them admit that they should be buying

Once you do this you will have boxed them in, and in order to say NO they will be forced to go against their own beliefs and contradict themselves.

PS: It’s a lie that people don’t buy on logic. People DO buy on logic. Not solely on emotion. Even if your customer/client does buy purely based on emotion in the moment, they will often renege and change their mind later and ask for a refund. So you need to create an airtight logical case as to why someone should buy your product.

How to close 

3 things are needed to close the sale:

  1. The customer must LOVE your product. They must think your product is the best thing since sliced bread and it should be. Don’t try to sell crap or a product you don’t believe in.
  2. The customer must TRUST you. The most important thing in sales is trust. If your customer doesn’t trust you they won’t buy from you.
  3. The customer must TRUST your company. Same as above.

When the customer loves you, your product, you and your company, all at the same time, they will buy.

All three factors are important and not one can be missed out.

If someone says NO it’s because:

  • They’re not convinced your product is the best (and you need that level of absolute certainty about your product if you want to sell your customer)
  • They don’t like or trust you
  • They don’t trust your company

PS: Ask for the order! Lots of salespeople do EVERYTHING except asking for the order! However an expert tells you what you should be doing with certainty – including buying.

Closing phrases

“All I ask is this you give me one shot”

“Believe me you won’t be sorry. Sound fair enough?”

“Believe me you’re going to be very, very impressed.”

“If you do even half as well as the rest of my customers”  

“I pride myself on being one of the top producers for my company. I’m not going to get there by being wrong.”

“What’s the worst that can possibly happen?”

“We can start off small and work bigger and better in the future”

“All I ask is that after you make a ton of money with this, I want a ton of referrals because that’s how my business really grows.”

“Please don’t misconstrue my enthusiasm for pressure”

“In real estate it’s location, location, location. In my business it’s timing, timing, timing”

“Getting started is very simple, it’s just a question of some basic information”

“Based on everything you just said this seems like a perfect fit for you. All I’m asking for is this: You give me one shot, and believe me, if I’m even half right, you the only problem you’ll have is that I didn’t call you 6 months ago and get you started then. Sound fair enough?”

“What’s the worst that can happen? Let’s say that I’m totally wrong. My compass is off. Let’s say I prove to be an incompetent fool… What’s the worse that can happen? You lose $245? It’s not going to make you poor. You’re not going to be living on the streets. But on the upside what if it DOES work out? Give me 90 days to prove myself to you. Believe me if I do even half as well as I have for my other clients the only problem you’ll have is that I didn’t call you 6 months ago and get you started then. Sound fair enough?”

In other words: The downside is minimal but the upside is HUGE. (Insert Donald Trump voice)

Notes on closing:

  • Whenever you close it’s always done with the tonality of “it’s no big deal”
  • You’re not a pressure salesperson, you’re a reasonable person. This is what a smart person would do. Isn’t it obvious?
  • You shouldn’t spend more than 2 minutes closing. If you’re spending 10 minutes closing there is something wrong.

Overcoming objections

The most common customer objections are:

  • I can’t afford it
  • I need to think
  • This is bad timing
  • My wife will kill me
  • I need to speak with my wife
  • I’ve been burned before

However 90% of objections are just stall tactics.

When someone says “I need to speak with my wife” or gives you any other objection it’s a stall tactic because:

  • They’re not convinced logically
  • They’re not convinced emotionally
  • It’s a question of money
  • They have a negative belief to buying

If the customer objects “I have to ask my wife” you need to weave something about his wife into the presentation and tailor your close to the wife.

“When you make your first $4, 000 do me a favour and buy your wife a present. It sounds like she needs it.”

Then shut up. The first person to talk loses.

If you want to take someone from a “NO” who balked at the price, ask them questions in an off-handed/indifferent manner.

“Does the idea make sense to you?”

The best time to overcome objections is BEFORE they come up.

“Tell me you have no money and I’ll respect that.”

“Tell me you don’t like the product and I’ll respectfully argue with you.”

The sale starts at NO

Don’t be concerned or upset when the customer says NO. Expect it!

The sale doesn’t actually begin until the customer says NO the first time.

That’s when the games begin!

5 tips to developing customers for life

  1. Never duck a phone call. If it’s bad news your customer will forgive you. But if you ignore them and let the anger fester, you’re done.
  2. Send them to your competitor. If you can’t help them, tell them where they can get what they need.
  3. Remember their family. Find out who they are after you have closed them. Don’t find out about the family before the sale is completed, time is money, but find out afterwards.
  4. Use gifts correctly. Send gifts you know they will like. Maybe to a sporting event. Or to a stand-up comedian.
  5. Write effective thank you notes.

Bonus tips

  • Be congruent with who you are. Don’t try to be anyone else. Dress, act and behave as the best possible version of yourself.
  • You need to get yourself into the right state before you speak to a customer:
    • The most empowering states for a salesperson: Certainty, clarity, conviction, confidence, courage.
    • The most disempowering states for a salesperson: Confusion, uncertainty, overwhelm, boredom.
  • If you are face to face with someone you must make direct eye contact. Eye contact develops trust and it shows you are an authority figure and that you are sharp.
  • Remember that we connect with people based on commonalities. Don’t lie, but DO look for commonalities with your customer.
  • You can’t control the amount of sales you make. The only thing you can control is how many calls you make and how many doors you knock on.
  • Link your product or service to a trustworthy figure.
  • Don’t give all of the best benefits/features of your product up front. Keep them up your sleeve for later. If you show the products best features up front and they reject it, no matter what you say later, they will have to remain consistent with their decision.
  • Don’t try to re-sell someone on a product or service if they’re already sold.
  • Set an anchor 3X immediately AFTER you have succeeded, made a sale, closed a deal etc. Don’t do it every time you pick up the phone because you don’t want it diluted and you don’t want it associated to failure. Jordan sets off an anchor every time he walks on stage to speak just like Tony Robbins.
  • Think about the words you use:
    • ‘Only’ minimizes the impact of the price. It’s ‘only’ $49.95.
    • The product doesn’t ‘cost’ anything. It’s an ‘investment’.
  • You are NOT the mistakes of your past. Learn from the past, but don’t live there.

Act as if

Jordan taught his stockbrokers to act as if:

“Act as if you have all the answers.”

“Act as if you have all the confidence.”

“Act as if you are rich already.”

“Act as if and all of these things will come to you.”

“Act as if you’re a wealthy man, rich already, and then you’ll surely become rich. Act as if you have unmatched confidence and then people will surely have confidence in you. Act as if you have unmatched experience and then people will follow your advice. Act as if you are already a tremendous success, and as sure as I stand here today – you will become successful.” – Jordan Belfort

Belief

You must believe in your product, yourself and your company 100%, because if you don’t, or if you approach your customers looking even a little bit defeated and you ask them:

“You wouldn’t want to buy ABC would you?”

“You don’t want any XYZ would you?”

No one will buy from you.

Be a visionary

Before buying a product or service people always run mental movies asking themselves how they’re going to feel after the purchase is made.

Your job as a salesperson is to create a picture in your customers mind using comparisons and metaphors as to what it’s going to feel like to use your product and how good they’re going to feel after making such a smart decision.

Focus

FOCUS is everything.

If you want to succeed you must focus on what you want and not on what you don’t, because what you focus on expands and what you focus on you attract.

If you focus on the crap in your life, you’ll become a giant crap magnet.

Fear

Everyone experiences fear and there are 3 ways of managing it:

  1. Pretend it doesn’t exist, ignore it – bad idea
  2. Act in spite of it – better
  3. Understand it and accept it – the best

The key to moving through fear is by focusing on what you want and not on what you don’t.

Summary

I learnt a lot about the art of influence, persuasion, manipulation and sales by studying the Straight Line Persuasion series and by watching additional interviews and seminars with Jordan on YouTube.

Whilst some of the strategies and techniques were intuitive and obvious to me, (like making an airtight logical case as to why someone should buy or overcoming objections before they come up), the Straight Line Persuasion course has definitely given me additional tools for my arsenal and it has also made me aware of how someone might try to use these tactics to manipulate me.

The same goes for you: Now that you know how these techniques work you can use them to your advantage or you can see them coming a mile away if/when someone tries to use them to manipulate you.

Let’s do a quick recap of the strategies in the Straight Line Persuasion system:

  1. The keys to success with Straight Line Persuasion:
    • Developing rapport with your customer on both a conscious and unconscious level
    • Gathering intelligence by asking specific questions to understand your customers needs
    • Controlling the sale by keeping it on the straight line
  2. You do NOT build rapport by talking about your customers hobbies/interests
  3. You build rapport by demonstrating that you are an expert and a person that can help them to achieve their goals
  4. Your goal as a salesperson is to:
    • Find the right people to speak to
    • Weed out the people who aren’t right
  5. You are NOT trying to turn non-buyers into buyers
  6. Don’t waste your time making a presentation to someone if they:
    • Don’t want or need your product
    • Shouldn’t be buying (because the product or service isn’t right for them)
    • Can’t afford your product
  7. As a salesperson you need to read from a script customized to your particular field without sounding like you are reading from a script
  8. Within 4 seconds of a cold call you need to establish that you are:
    • Enthusiastic as hell
    • Sharp as a tack
    • An expert/authority figure – (Everyone wants to work with the expert, the top guy/girl in the field)
  9. When trying to influence/persuade/sell someone your tonality is everything and it is used to make your customer feel certain emotions. You don’t tell them you care, you imply it with your tonality. You don’t tell them to trust you, you imply it with your tonality.
  10. Whenever you speak to a customer it is always implicit in your tonality:
    • I’m just like you
    • I care
    • I’m trustworthy
    • I have your best interests at heart
  11. Important tonalities:
    • Hushed tones, implying something scarce or a secret
    • Certainty
    • Disarming
  12. Don’t try to sell someone on the benefits and features of your product. Instead ask the customer specific intelligent questions to:
    • Find out what the customer is looking for
    • Find out what is motivating them to want to make a purchase
    • Gather as much information as possible
    • Determine the customers buying strategy
  13. If someone is currently using a similar product you need to find out:
    • What they like about the product
    • What they don’t like about the product
  14. Your job is to create a vision inside of the customers mind of how great it’s going to feel to buy, use and own your product
  15. Everyone has a unique buying strategy and you don’t know if they are:
    • Motivated logically
    • Motivated emotionally
    • Afraid of making a bad choice
    • Have a limiting belief to buying
  16. Everyone has different beliefs about buying and if you want to sell someone something you need to know what those beliefs are
  17. You need to:
    • Create an airtight logical case
    • Create an airtight emotional case
    • Break through your customers limiting buying beliefs
    • Eliminate all of their reasons not to buy/take away all of their reasons to say no
    • Having them admit that they should be buying
  18. 3 things must be established to close the sale:
    • They must LOVE your product – Your customer must think your product is the best thing since sliced bread and it should be. Don’t try to sell crap or a product you don’t believe in.
    • They must TRUST you – The most important thing in sales is trust. If your customer doesn’t trust you they won’t buy from you.
    • They must TRUST your company
  19. Ask for the order. Lots of salespeople do everything except asking for the sale
  20. Whenever you close it’s always done with the tonality of “it’s no big deal.”
  21. 90% of objections are just stall tactics because the customer:
    • Isn’t convinced logically
    • Isn’t convinced emotionally
    • Is concerned about the price
    • Has a negative belief to buying
  22. The best way to overcome objections is BEFORE they come up
  23. Don’t be concerned or upset when the customer says “NO”. Expect it! The sale doesn’t actually start until the first time the customer says NO.
  24. 5 tips to developing customers for life:
    • Never duck a phone call
    • Send them to your competitor. If you can’t help them, tell them where they can get what they need
    • Remember their family
    • Send gifts you know they will like
    • Write effective thank you notes
  25. Act as if. Act as if you have all the answers. Act as if you have all the confidence. Act as if you are rich and powerful and successful already.
  26. Focus on what you want – not on what you don’t

Finally I’d like to close with a quote that perfectly sums up the art of influence and persuasion for me:

“There is only one way to get anybody to do anything. And that is by making the other person want to do it.” – Dale Carnegie

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