Since being released from jail in 2006, Jordan Belfort, otherwise known as the "Wolf of Wall Street," has accomplished a seemingly smooth transition from federally prosecuted crook, to motivational speaker. This time around, instead of selling phony stocks and ripping off investors, Belfort is selling every salesman's dream: mastery of the art of persuasion.
Through his "Straight Line System" seminars, for which he's traveled all over the world, Belfort educates attendees on his guidelines for making the perfect sell. His lessons provide a multifaceted approach to, essentially, making money. It's the reason he cuts to the chase in explaining the target demographic of his lectures:
"It's for entrepreneurs, business owners, salespeople of all types... pretty much anybody who wants to get ahead in life."
And while his promise that the Straight Line System rapidly leads anyone to success does sound a little infomercial-like, Belfort does deserve the benefit of the doubt. This is, lest we forget, the man who turned kids with no education who were "as smart as a box of rocks" into six-figure salary-wielding brokers, for better or worse.
With that being said, we have reason to listen. So, here is Jordan Belfort's guide to the art of persuasion:
Keep Your Powder Dry
If aiming to convince everybody that what you're selling is worth buying, you're already on the wrong track. According to Belfort, in a room full of prospective buyers, everyone falls under four categories: those who are curious, those empowered buyers who are browsing, those who are desperate to make a decision, and those who are hopeless.
"In any given room like that, you will find people that will never buy," he stated during a seminar on salesmanship.
There is no reason to waste your time and effort on those who don't even need what you're selling. When dealing with those who are either curious or simply not buying, Belfort says "to keep your powder dry," to essentially save your best stuff for when it matters. It's easy to weed out those who aren't worthy of your words, he adds. If they don't have the money, aren't in need of what you have, or if your service isn't relevant to them and their priorities, don't waste your time.
Conquer The First Four Seconds
The most important part of a conversation is the time during which you're trying to either promote yourself or your business. During the first four seconds, Belfort says, it's imperative that you establish that you are enthusiastic, sharp and authoritative. No one will be inspired by someone who doesn't even sound like he or she is inspired his or herself. From the get-go, Belfort says it's important to establish your competence in the subject of relevance. "Tonality" is the word he likes to key in on and a lot rides on it.
Understand The Action Threshold
Part of knowing how to sell, whether you're selling an idea or a product, is knowing what exactly to touch on during the limited amount of time you have a person's attention. While some salesmen might try to build rapport by talking about things the buyer and seller might have in common (the same hometown, for instance), Belfort emphasized the fact that it's important to immediately crack what he calls the "action threshold." The action threshold is otherwise known as the point when a person's need exceeds the amount of doubts he or she has about what you're trying to sell.
Furthermore, limiting beliefs are what drive these doubts, so it's important, while trying to persuade someone, that a person directly attacks these beliefs. When Belfort owned his firm, for example, he said that as soon as a prospective employer walked into his office, he told that person what they could accomplish together, though the employer never imagined it possible. Belfort then pushes people to think about what they have to offer someone. He asks what doubts they think buyers may have about their idea or service. Whatever doubts there may be, it's important to attack those beliefs, and any common misconceptions that may be behind an idea or service, emphatically.
It's a fool's mistake to not have a framework of what the conversation is going to be with a buyer, says Belfort. In expressing this, he quotes a line from San Tzu's famous book, "The Art Of War," saying, "Every battle is won before it even begins." Preparation is essential to determining that you, as a persuader, will come out successful. By no means does Belfort advocate acting like a robot, but it's important, nonetheless, to have a complete understanding of how you will deliver every facet of your message, including the buzzwords you will use for each stage of the conversation.
Take Control Of Your State
"I did it out of anger." For some people, bad decisions can be traced back to those words. Belfort believes this can be attributed to the fact that our state drives what we do and when it comes to persuasion, the amount of success we have while in that state.
This is why, the Wolf says, it's essential to be cognizant of the Three C's when trying to persuade someone: certainty, clarity and courage. Even in the face of failure, it's a must that everyone be able to channel a sense of positivity, courage and control to move forward. Rather than lamenting the fact that you failed while hesitant and jittery in a state of timidity, you might just say:
"I succeeded out of courage."
If you think you're incapable of mastering the art of persuasion, or selling what you have to offer, regardless if Belfort's advice aids this or not, he states that it's a priority to remember one thing -- so much so that he had to say it twice in one interview:
"You are not your past; you are the resources and capabilities that you glean from it. You are not your past; you are the resources and capabilities that you glean from it. And that is the basis for all change."
Photo credit: Wolf Of Wall St./Paramount Pictures