Jordan Belfort was a successful stockbroker who made millions of dollars. Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed him in the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese. He was charged by the FBI with securities fraud and money laundering and served almost 2 years in jail. He is the inventor of the Straight Line System. In his book, Way of the Wolf: Straight Line Selling, he discusses his step-by-step sales and persuasion system that helped him become extremely wealthy.
According to Belfort, The Straight Line System will cut sales cycles, build referrals, generate more closings, help form more permanent closes, and teaches non salespeople to persuade. While he was running his company, Stratton Oakmont, in the 1990s Belfort taught this system to his employees and it allowed for amateur salespeople to become good at selling and make millions. In the straight-line system, the salesperson moves prospects along at a regular pace to the close, as long as the product works for them.
Every sale consists of the same three core elements. First, prospects must trust your product or service. If they do not, you need to move them there. Second, they need to trust the salesperson. Building rapport is important here. Third, the prospect needs to trust the company that he is buying from. For each element, the salesperson needs to move the prospect from absolute uncertainty to absolute certainty.
The Straight Line system requires you to lower your prospect's action threshold and increase their pain threshold. To increase the pain threshold, you can have your prospect think about what will happen if they don't fix the problem. There are four ways to increase the action threshold.
- Offer a money-back guarantee
- Offer a cooling or rescission period
- Use key phrases to ease their worries. For example, "I will hold your hand every step of the way."
- Say something like, “Bill, let me ask you an honest question; what’s the worst that can possibly happen here? I mean, let’s say I’m wrong and the stock actually goes down a few points, and you lose two thousand bucks.
If you feel like the prospect is feeling pressured, you can say something like "Jim, please don’t misconstrue my enthusiasm for pressure; it’s just that I know that this truly is a perfect fit for you."
Remember that when selling or persuading others, people form an impression about you in a short time. You have four seconds to make a positive connection with your prospect. You want to show them that you are sharp as a tack, very enthusiastic, and a knowledgeable expert. You want to show that you can fulfill their needs and desires and that you offer a unique perspective.
Your body language and tone are very important. You want to sound caring, sincere, and empathetic. Make sure to smile and have a posture that matches that of your prospect.
Use looping to handle your prospect's doubts. When they voice their objections, delay, and loop back to a previous point in your presentation. This way you are reinforcing why they should take the deal. For example, one way to answer your prospect's objections is to say: “I hear what you’re saying, Bill, but let me ask you a question; Does the idea make sense to you? Do you like the idea?."
When using the straight-line system, make sure you do the following:
- Understand your prospects. Who are they? What do they care about? Do you understand their pain?
- Use a memorized script when talking to them so that you can focus on their words, tone, and body language.
- Don’t focus on the benefits at the beginning. Reserve that for later.
- Use stopping-off points between important ideas. For example, “Does that make sense?” after talking at length.
- Talk like you are having a conversation.
- Be honest and ethical.
- Ask strategic questions to understand who they are and to find the right audience.
When trying to find good prospects:
- Ask permission to ask questions. Remember to build rapport before asking more intimate questions. Start from least intimate questions and gradually work your way deeper.
- Always follow a logical path.
- Always use a memorized script. That will help you focus on your prospect instead of what you want to say.
- Use the right tone and body language when asking questions. Make sure you show empathy.
- Don’t waste time on unlikely prospects.
- Use vocal exclamation points - oohs and aahs - to build relationships
- Lean your body towards them when you ask emotion-based questions
- When asking logic-based questions, lean back, and nod
- Always end with a powerful transition. “Well, John, based on everything you just said to me, this program is definitely a perfect fit for you. Let me tell you why… “
- Stay on the Straight Line; don’t go spiraling off to Pluto. Try to stay on track. If your prospect tries to go off track, say something like “It sounds really interesting. I can see why you feel that way. Now as far as your goal for learning how to trade currencies goes…”
Now that you understand how the Straight Line System works you can now focus on building referrals.
The Main Take-aways
The Straight Line System is a good way to sell products to prospects and persuade others. Build a good impression quickly, develop a rapport, ask permission when asking questions, ask the questions needed to target the right audience, make a strong presentation backed by a memorized script, use looping to defend against objections, uncover the prospect’s pain, and explain how your product or service will relieve it.