Jordon Belfort is the name of the penny stock trader portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the wild movie, The Wolf of Wall Street. To avoid jail time after being charged with securities fraud, Belfort turned on his co-conspirators and in due course became, what else, an author and sales trainer.
To appreciate how good he was at training his own team of boiler room stock salesmen, it helps to know that he would take under-educated young men from the streets of New York and within 90 days, have the average broker earning $12,000 a month; some were earning three times that…within 90 days!
Clearly, Belfort had developed a system that worked, and in his book entitled “The Way of The Wolf,” he names this system “Straight Line Selling.” In compelling style, Belfort makes the case that all buyers are exactly the same and they all travel from first contact to sale in a very predictable straight line. The salesman’s sole purpose is the make sure each contact moves them as far as possible along that line until they buy.
Getting to “No!”
Everyone has probably heard some theory about how many “Nos” it takes to finally get to a “Yes,” and Belfort certainly subscribes to this theory. He delves further into the nuance, however, by noting that the prospect doesn’t have to actually say the word, “No,” to mean “No.” And again, Belfort is making the point that every client travels the same path (at different paces) and the “solution” to handling the “rejection” can be the same, and thus can be rehearsed in advanced and truly mastered.
To me, the most interesting thing about this straight line, is the way Belfort discovered it. Long story short—he had decided to change strategies and have his brokers call the super wealthy and try to land giant orders, rather than continuing to find the retiree whom they could trick into buying a few shares of some penny stock.
After a few nights of calling, his brokers revolted. Their $12,000/mo and up incomes were going to zero as they were unable to make a sale to this new and more sophisticated audience. Belfort ordered the pizza and beer and gathered his troops in front of a white board, warning them that he was ready to stay all night Here’s how the dialog went:
Belfort: Why are you finding it so hard to close people?
Salesman: There are too many objections. I’m getting hit with them left and right. I can’t even start my pitch.
Salesman: Me too. There are thousands of them. Everyone has an excuse to delay or deflect.
Salesman: I want to go back to penny stocks; they’re eaiser
Salesman: Me too.
Belfort: Fair enough. Give them to me. I’m going to write every one of the thousands objections right here on this white board. Go ahead. Call them out.
Salesman: Uh…they say they want to think about it.
Belfort: Good. (Writing it down.) Next?
Salesman: Send me some information.
Salesman: It’s a bad time of year
Salesman: I need to speak to my wife.
Salesman: I never heard of your firm.
Salesman: How do I know I can trust you?
Salesman: I don’t make quick decisions.
On and on they went as Belfort furiously wrote. And then a funny thing happened—the salesmen ran out of objections. As Belfort turned to look at the white board, there weren’t thousands of objections; there were only fourteen. From dozens of sales people who collectively had made hundreds of thousands of telephone calls, there were only fourteen objections they had ever run into!
And half of the fourteen turned out to be variations of the first two—it was a bad time of year or they needed to speak with someone else. What Belfort concluded was that there wasn’t really any difference between one objective and another, that there was only one objection: A lack of certainty.
Belfort concluded was that there wasn’t really any difference between one objection and another, that there was only one objection: A lack of certainty and trust.
To overcome this, he created the straight line selling method, and while it would take too much space to describe it here, the basis was that Belfort would create “loops” to increase certainty and trust, and execute each one of his loops in precisely the same exact way, every single time, with every single prospect. The results led to incredible success.
Recently I wrote in an Edge Newsletter about how you can’t get blood from a turnip, meaning that a prospective client must have the money to be able to spend the money. But if you’re calling on the right prospects, it would serve you well to think of every objection you ever encounter to starting a project, and master your own “straight line” for moving them in the direction of certainty and trust.