Summary of “Way of the Wolf – Straight line selling: Master the art of persuasion, influence and success” by Jordan Belfort This is a guide to the art of selling. It consists of gaining the trust of a lead to improve their level of certainty. Adapt your tone, your body language and language patterns to convince someone to place an order, whether in person or over the phone.
By Jordan Belfort, 2017, 300 pages
Note: This guest article was written by Pierre-Christophe from the blog “Entreprendre et Réussir”
Chronicle and summary of “Way of the Wolf – Straight line selling: Master the art of persuasion, influence and success” by Jordan Belfort
To find out how to sell and take control of your life, even partial knowledge of persuasion and sales techniques can help you get out of potentially delicate situations. You may not even notice it, but you are already selling every day, using an ethical form of persuasion that helps you stay in control of a situation:
- Sell people your opinions and thoughts
- Sell your children on the importance of doing their homework
- A dentist sells the importance of brushing your teeth
- A photographer sells the importance of taking attractive photos
- A blogger sells a product, a service, a thought or a concept in his or her field.
Whether in the private or professional sphere, selling is everywhere and everything. It is important to know how to sell. It involves negotiation, and therefore persuasion. At this stage, you are probably wondering: How can I make a successful sale?
Very often, even though we are aware that knowing how to sell is crucial to any successful activity, we tend to shy away from it. Most people are not comfortable at the thought of having to persuade someone to do something. Unfortunately, if you don’t gain your prospect’s trust, there is no chance of closing a sale.
There are manipulation techniques to improve your results and your decision making.
Convincing a prospect to place an order means gaining their confidence, although it may not be unqualified. You have to be able to remove deep pain.
Now, if you think they are ready to place an order, it is actually just the beginning! To know how to sell and successfully convince a prospect to place an order, your product needs to respond to their need, cost the right price and eliminate their pain. First you gain their trust in the product, and then you have to reinforce it if you want them to place an order.
If you think at this point that the sale will close quickly because you have gained the potential customer’s trust in the product and in you as a person, the answer is “Maybe”. One point remains! You have to gain the prospect’s trust in your company. To sum up, if you want to close the sale, you have to get these 3 levels of trust.
- In your product
- On you as a salesperson
- In your company.
These 3 criteria are valid for all sales. It doesn’t matter whether they take place over the phone or face to face. It doesn’t matter what sales technique you use. The size of your prospect’s budget or the sale price have nothing to do with it.
Part 1: Inventing the straight line
To help us discover how to sell and to visualise, Jordan Belfort explains the concept of the “Continuum of certainty”. He draws a diagram showing your prospect’s level of certainly and how it moves along the line from the start of your meeting until the sale closes:
Absolute uncertainty 1 —————— Doubt ———————–> 10 Absolute certainty
If your prospect is at level:
- 1. It will be difficult to change their mind if they despise your product. They will have serious doubts about its effectiveness and its value.
- 3. They don’t see much point in your product, but it is better than 1.
- 5. They have no opinion about your product. This neutrality can be interpreted by a sales person as a sign saying “Please influence me now! I can’t make up my mind! So please help me!”
- 7. They think that you have a convincing product, but it is not a 10.
- 10. They love your product unconditionally.
Throughout the sales process, you have to remember 2 things:
- The level of certainty is not set in stone. This applies to both doubts and certainties about your product.
- You cannot determine greater probability of closing or not closing when the score is between 1 and 5 or between 5 and 10.
Selling requires you to convince a prospect that your product is going to improve their life. That way their level of certainty will be close to 10. The further away it is from 10, the harder you are going to have to work to figure out how to convince them to place an order.
Part 2: The 3 commandments of a salesperson
Most people hate sales and do not want to hear about it. But knowing how to sell a product or a service is essential if you want to create wealth.
You are going to stack things in your favour by following these 3 commandments if you want to close a sale.
2.1 – First commandment: Get the prospect to trust your product
If your prospect does not see how your product can ease their pain and solve their problem, you have no chance of closing. First and foremost, your product has to respond to their need. They have to believe that your product will improve their life.
Your product can be both tangible and intangible:
A vision of the future
2.2 – Second commandment: Get your prospect to trust you
When your prospect reaches a good level of certainty in relation to your product, the question about you as a person arises. The lead will always find good reasons not to like you:
- From the moment they meet you
- Something they don’t like about you
- The way you dress
- The way you speak
- Your insistence
- The questions you are going to ask
- Their impression that you are a complete novice
- They find your presentation uninteresting
- They think you are more interested in their money than in genuinely helping them
These decisions are based on beliefs, life, experience, opinion, fears… The other person will rapidly make an assessment based on a past experience. Before the meeting even begins, the result will place their “degree of certainty” somewhere between 1 and 10.
2.3 – Third commandment: Get your prospect to trust your company
If you have started a new business, then your prospect will never have heard of your company. In this case, at worst you will encounter a certain amount of scepticism on their part at having to deal with a company generally. Having said that, at the start of any meeting, you will not really be able to pre-establish the degree of certainty. If your company has been in existence for a long time, there are 2 possible scenarios:
|When your company enjoys a good reputation||If your company suffers from a bad reputation|
|Your prospect will think that the staff are well trained and that the company will have a lot to lose if the product is of poor quality.||Your prospect will have negative bias and you are going to have to work to build up the level of certainty.|
|The sale will be easier||The sale will be harder|
This is the basis to know how to sell and convince a prospect to place an order using the 3 commandments. They are the conditions if you want things to go your way.
Part 3: The order of the meeting with your prospect
During the meeting, to become a master closer, you cannot start chatting about the weather. In the space of a few seconds, your prospect will take control of the meeting and push you back.
You will probably face a number of objections that will demonstrate their uncertainty, such as:
- Let me think about it.
- I’ll find out more.
- It’s a bad time.
If you want to be like the Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort’s method offers 5 principles you will have to apply from the start of the meeting to the end of the meeting so that:
- They love your product
- Lower the action threshold
- They trust you
- They love your company
- Raise the pain threshold.
Once you master the method, you will be able to convince anyone. However, for ethical reasons, you may sometimes avoid convincing a prospect to place an order.
3.1 –The first part of the meeting
Jordan Belfort explains the concept of the “straight line” in more detail:
Open >–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–>–> Close
Your goal throughout the meeting will be to keep the customer on the straight line. Generally, they will try to take control, but there are 2 scenarios available to you:
- Either they take control and you take off for PLUTO…
- Or you chat about the weather and you fall down to URANUS.
There is going to be an exchange in the first part of the meeting. Keeping things friendly, you are going to collect information.
- Identify the problems they are facing.
- Identify their beliefs.
- Find out how much of their cash is already invested or unavailable.
- Identify their past experiences with similar products, good or bad.
- Identify their values, what they are looking for.
- Identifying their pain, what is on their mind, or even keeping them awake at night.
If you want to close the deal, your mission in the first part of the meeting will be to:
- Take control immediately.
- Gather information while building an excellent rapport.
- Ask for the order for the first time.
The first objection is your signal to move to the second part of the meeting.
3.2 – The second part of the interview
To close a sale and gain your prospect’s trust, you need to be ready to handle their objections. Use them to your advantage to make a second presentation and increase the level of certainty. Your choice of words will be of vital importance. You have to reach them logically and emotionally.
An objection is nothing more than a smokescreen. You are going to use what Jordan Belfort calls “the loop” to increase their level of certainty. A “loop” is your technique for persuasion that speaks to the other person logically and emotionally. You can make a series of loops. Thanks to you, your prospect’s level of certainty will rise until they are comfortable placing an order. The “action threshold” defines the level of difficulty convincing the person:
|A low action threshold||A high action threshold|
|It is easy to convince a prospect to place an order.||It is hard to convince a prospect to place an order.|
In the end, the main motivation will be their level of pain and this will create a sense of urgency. It is the best way for your potential buyers, even the most recalcitrant, to become convinced to place an order. To close a sale and gain your prospect’s trust, finding out what is causing them pain will be important. You can position your product as a “remedy”. Even better than that, you need to demonstrate how your product will make their pain melt away. How happy they will feel! You can help them picture the future to heighten this effect.
Part 4: The first 4 seconds to make a good impression
All human beings are aware of their surroundings and many decisions are made in haste because they are based on our perception of things. Basically, they are a reflection of our fears.
It is possible to successfully perceive a problem as an opportunity and take successful action despite the worst obstacles.
We are constantly sizing up our surroundings and nobody wants to work with a beginner. When you want to get a new household appliance, computer or car, you want to talk to an expert, not a novice. A beginner tends to embellish things and will be less efficient in raising the customer’s certainty threshold, because the beginner is not as precise as the expert. Under these conditions, it will be hard to gain the prospect’s trust and they will be less inclined to place an order.
First impressions are crucial when it comes to closing a sale. Everything happens in the first 4 seconds and you will never close a sale unless you make a good first impression. If the lead gets a bad impression of you in the first 4 seconds, they will think that you are:
- A complete beginner.
In contrast, if you make a good first impression, they will see you as:
- Sharp as a tack
- Enthusiastic as hell
- An expert in your field.
Making a good impression is essential if you want to close a sale. You will be able to change the course of the decision to prove to your customer that they are making a mistake if they don’t place an order. We have not changed much since our caveman days. Even though the stakes are much lower today, our field of vision remains capable of detecting danger almost instantly. This happens before the prefrontal cortex manages to make the decision a quarter of a second later.
We are conditioned from childhood to ask experts to resolve our problems. We are used to their special way of talking and we want them to be enthusiastic, intelligent and content. If you want to close a sale, you need to embody the expert in your field. The potential customer must see you as someone who gets straight to the point. You can find a solution to their problems. You don’t waste their time and you could be an asset in the long term.
In order for them to reach this positive impression, you need to help them achieve their objectives and give them what they want in life. To close a sale, your tone of voice, body language, smile and facial expressions will all make a difference to the impression they get of you. Body language and tone of voice are 90% of your communication. Words are the remaining 10%.
Part 5: How to manage your emotional state.
It is very important to know how to manage your emotions if you want to close a sale. Do not, however, expect to get into the right emotional state unless you have a fail-safe strategy in place. If you tend to focus on what can go wrong in your life, such as:
- A professional setback
- A sick child
- A loved one who recently passed
- A separation
- A goal you did not achieve
Then you will be in an emotional state that is the reflection of these problems. If you are in this frame of mind, you are setting yourself up to fail. You will not be able to access your internal resources. And you will be incapable of gaining your prospect’s trust.
You can use neuro-linguistic programming methods to reset your brain. For most people, their emotional state at any given moment is the result of external forces that are acting on them:
- If you are engaged in a positive event, then you will be in a positive emotional state.
- In contrast, if you are affected by a negative emotional event, then you will probably be in a negative emotional state.
Using the NLP principle of “anchoring”, you have the ability to choose the emotional state that you need to be in at any given time. One of the things you need to do to control your emotional state is learn to control your physiology.
This is all the positions of your body and all the gestures you can make:
- How fast you breathe
- Your movements
- Your facial expressions
Physiology that represents the emotional state is common to almost all cultures. It can indicate whether or not you are happy. All human beings, whatever their emotional state, adopt the same physiology.
Even if you are capable of controlling your emotions at a given moment, this power to change can only be exercised for a short period of time. It can last between 5 minutes and 1 hour at most. Afterwards, you will gradually return to your previous emotional state. If you look into your memories, you will surely find an example of an attempt to control your emotional state, successfully or not.
Jordan Belfort’s technique relies on the principle of anchoring. It is drawn from “Pavlovian” conditioning. At the start of the 20th century, a scientist named Ivan Pavlov conducted an experiment with a starving dog. He would show the dog a piece of meat and ring a bell at the same time. By repeating the experiment, he got to a stage where the dog would begin to salivate when it heard the bell, even if it was not hungry. This meant that the simple ringing of the bell was enough to trigger salivation through repetition.
In NLP, the bell represents an “anchor”. The ringing of the bell activates an anchor and triggers a process in which two elements that were initially independent become correlated. A salesperson will try to place an anchor to bring the potential customer to a state of absolute certainty. Jordan Belfort, basing his approach on the principle of anchoring, suggests “olfactory anchoring” as a sales tool. Traditional NLP anchoring is in 5 stages:
- Step one – Choose your emotional state: This is a conscious decision to choose the emotional state you want to anchor. Let’s say you choose a state of “absolute certainty” for your meeting to run under the best conditions.
- Step two – Choose your focus: Delve into your memories and find a moment when you felt absolute certainty. The goal is to picture yourself achieving your objective, your vision or a task. Once you find it, take a photograph of the moment and observe it.
- Step three – Choose your physiology: Change your physiology to match the emotion you get from the memory you want to anchor. It must be fully of certainty, even excessively so, so that your facial expressions and your features express absolute certainty.
- Step four – Intensify your emotional state: You are going to intensify your 5 senses based on the photograph of absolute certainty that you took in the second step. To do this, you need to adapt the photo in your mind to increase your degree of absolute certainty. In other words, everything you see inside and outside your mind. This can be a mixture of a memory and a situation or one or the other. You need to work on the following aspects:
- Step five – Set your anchor: Return to the emotional state of absolute certainty that you just created and link it to a smell, a sound, a feeling or a word.
By controlling your emotions, you will be able, even if it is only temporary, to block any disturbing ones that would usually lead to a negative emotional state. If you want to close a sale you have to be able to maintain a positive and decisive state of mind. Your emotional state will condition your ability to access your internal resources and reach your goal.
It is also helpful to know how to handle criticism and figure out whether it is constructive or not.
If you want results, you have to be able to generate a state of euphoria on demand so that you avoid slipping into despair and failure. Only use it at specific, key moments that are important to you. For example, these could be moments when you need to:
- Sign an agreement
- Make an important decision
- Lead a sales meeting
To lead a successful sales meeting, there are 4 emotional states, also known as the 4Cs. They refer to: Certainty, Clarity, Confidence and Courage. By choosing your own emotion, you become proactive instead of reactive. You can activate the event that you want to think about at any time. For example, you can bring a positive event to the surface of your mind, such as:
- A fulfilling loving relationship
- A recent professional success
- A goal you achieved
This will put you in a positive emotional state of mind that is the reflection of all these wonderful events. The process contains two principle steps that are quite simple:
- Step one: Choose your state, in this case absolute certainty.
- Step two: Set your anchor.
To close a sale and successfully control your emotional state, be like Jordan Belfort and use what he calls “olfactory anchoring”. This associates a smell with a memory that gives you absolute certainty. The process consists of inhaling deeply through each nostril. You can clench your fists and shout out ‘yes” in a restrained, yet strong voice. The more you repeat this process, the more you anchor your absolute certainty. For more security, you can add a second anchor. You can pile them up to make them more powerful before entering a meeting. That way, you have every chance of convincing a prospect to place an order.
Part 6: Finding the right tonality.
Unless your prospect is cut off from the world, it is highly likely that they are suspicious of you as a salesperson. The main reason they unmask you is because not even their vaguest acquaintance would speak to them in such a solemn tone. You can add to this the fact that they are used to talking to tele-marketers on the phone. They quickly understand that they are talking to a salesperson. In this context, you will not gain the prospect’s trust and the deal will be dead in the water, joining the long list of aborted sales.
If you are someone with no innate talent for sales, in other words 99% of people, then you are the victim of what we can call an “internal breakdown in communication”. When this happens, you won’t know how to close the sale because your conscious and unconscious self become incapable of communicating certain kinds of information to each other. Your message becomes unenthusiastic, with no tonality and no body language. This turns your verbal communication into a watered-down version of the message you wanted to get across. Gaining your prospect’s trust will become more difficult.
The right tonality refuses to come out of your mouth. It is blocked, even though the words are coming right out. Most of the time, a lack of tonality does not come from a conscious choice on your part. If you compare tonality to a form of technology, the error comes from our mediocre communications platform. It has made us “tone deaf” and prevents us from winning our prospect’s trust.
If you want to close a sale, you will need at least partial mastery over tonality to encourage people to buy something that they would not otherwise have bought. They will not realise how much persuasion was used to bring them to that decision.
Nevertheless, in the face of such immense power, it is essential to remember to have ethics. Ethics are your best defence from taking a wrong turn. You would surely prefer to be a role model than someone despicable. When a salesperson is trying to convince a prospect to place an order, the prospect’s brain is really listening to 2 separate messages.
- First message: Your potential customer will analyse each of your words individually and in the context of the sentence.
- Second message: A little voice inside their head, depending on how they interpret the information, will weigh up the pros and cons of the last thing you said.
This is what makes the difference – a story told well or a concept that is well explained. It relies on two ingredients:
Even if your words are convincing and you succeed in addressing the other person logically, you need to use tonality to reach them emotionally. It will be your secret weapon when it comes to gaining their trust. If you want to close a sale, one fairly common technique is to rely on “scarcity” to create desire. When the prospect perceives a lack of abundance or a limited amount of your product or service, then the desire to own it will be even stronger. There are 3 types of scarcity that can help you to close a sale:
- Verbal scarcity: You convey scarcity with the words you choose. For example – “I only have 10 places on this training course and I’m not sure that there will be another one.” This technique is called “creating urgency” in sales. It encourages action now rather than in a hypothetical future. You can heighten the urgency as much as possible and close the sale.
- Tonal scarcity: You can gradually lower the volume of your voice while continuing to express enthusiasm with a word or phrase. This tonality allows you to increase the sense of scarcity in the prospect’s unconscious.
- Informational scarcity: Information is also given in limited quantity. This technique can amplify the previous one and encourage your prospect to place an order more quickly.
You should never speak in a solemn voice, but rather in the way you would speak to a friend. Your tonality should be enthusiastic and cheerful. For a good meeting that will end with a sale, you need to unite these qualities:
- Absolute certainty
- Utter sincerity
- The reasonable man
Then, to increase the prospect’s confidence in you, add the tonalities to reinforce your words. When the time comes to close the sale, your goal is to take control of the little voice in your prospect’s head to neutralise it and stop it from working against your interests.
You can start the interview by asking: “Hi, is < Your prospect’s name > there?”. This creates a psychological bond by showing sincere interest. Once they have given you their first name, you can turn a statement into a question: “Hi, my name is < Your Name > from < Your Company’s Name >? How are you today?” Using this technique, you will arouse 3 universal desires that every human possesses:
- To not be perceived as being out of the loop.
- To remember people we’ve met before.
- Appear generally agreeable.
Now, to gain their trust, you can explain the reason you are calling. You can use a tonality of “mystery” and “intrigue”.
For example: “< Your Prospect’s Name >, the reason I’m calling today is because we have chosen some holidaymakers who stayed in our hotel and we want to offer you…” and explain what your offer consists of. You can lower the volume of your voice and emphasise the R in “reason” ever so slightly. Remember that you are going to combine the different “scarcities” to heighten your message:
- Verbal scarcity.
- Tonal scarcity.
- Informational scarcity.
Now you have come to the end of your presentation. It is time to ask if they want to place an order for the first time. In this case, if you want to close the sale, you can use 3 successive tonalities, in this order:
- Absolute certainty: Your voice is firm “If you give me a chance < Your Prospect’s Name >, believe me…”
- Utter sincerity: Your voice becomes gentle and calm “…You will be very, very impressed…”
- The voice of reason: You raise your voice at the end of the sentence to insinuate that what you have said makes perfect sense “Does my proposal seem fair to you?”
Part 7: How to use your body language
You have probably at some point in your life met someone who triggered an almost visceral negative response inside you. If you think back to that moment, the problem probably did not come from that person’s tonality or words, but from their body language. Something about the way that person moved or carried themselves made your skin crawl. Perhaps it was their lack of eye contact, or the way they shook your hand, or looked at you, or stood too close to you that made you uncomfortable.
An unshaven man will find it hard to close a sale because he will not inspire confidence. It may suggest a lack of pride, that they do not pay attention to detail. This will hold them back when it comes to raising the prospect’s level of certainty and trust. Most of the time, being bearded is not desirable, unless you come from the Middle East or you sell Harley Davidson motorbikes.
The female equivalent may be wearing too much jewellery or sporting an extravagant hairstyle. It can suggest an excessive side and the customer will wonder what is wrong. It is another situation where it will be difficult to raise the level of certainty.
Whether for men or women, visual contact must be correctly measured. If you do not maintain visual contact for about 72% of the time, then the other person, unconsciously, will not trust you.
Non-verbal communication is so much stronger than verbal communication that it can hit the other person like a punch in the stomach if it is not controlled. If you want to close a sale, you must learn to control your body language. You need to understand that all of your ideas, intuitions and emotions are communicated in the way you move, and especially through:
- How you smell
- How you establish visual contact
- Your appearance
- Your posture
- How you manage time and space.
Everything gets analysed in a split second when the person first sets eyes on you. They will form an opinion about you very quickly. Good body language can convince a prospect and close a sale on your behalf. It is not just about your appearance. It also involves managing the space between you to have an impact on the level of certainty. Personal space varies between 60cm and 1 metre in western society. In Asia, people stand or sit closer together (around 15cm closer).
You should avoid crossing your arms as this implies that you are not open to new ideas. Let’s look at how to position yourself depending on the gender of the salesperson and the customer:
- A salesman and a male customer: The salesman should place himself at a slight angle in relation to the customer. This avoids giving rise to any feelings of conflict and facilitates immediate contact to gain the prospect’s trust.
- A salesman and a female customer: The salesman should position himself opposite her and keep his hands above his hips so that she can see them in her line of vision.
- A saleswoman and a female customer: The saleswoman show position herself at an angle from her customer.
- A saleswoman and a male customer: The saleswoman should position herself opposite her customer.
In order to close a sale, “active listening” is expressed through your facial expressions, the way you smile, your gestures and your little grunts and groans. They will help you form a bond with your prospect. Auditive signs such as “Yeah” and “Aha” are effective in maintaining contact and indicating that you are both on the same wavelength. They are especially important on the phone, because you cannot use your body language.
Synchronisation is also an important tool when it comes to forming a bond. Without imitating the other person, you can “match” their tonality and body language:
- Over the phone, you can use expressions that “match” those of the other person.
- In person, to get off on the right foot, start with a firm and friendly handshake. You need to exert exactly the same amount of pressure. You are not higher or lower than the other person. Nod your head to show that you understand what they are saying.
Part 8: The art of prospecting
As we saw earlier, a prospect will not respond to your questions if their level of certainty is not high enough and if they do not perceive you to be
- An expert in your field
- Trustworthy, enthusiastic and eloquent
- Someone who deserves to be listened to and who can help them solve their problem and reach their goals.
Without these 3 criteria, the potential customer will not want to waste their time on you. Either they will give you superficial answers, or they will try to take control of the meeting. For a novice salesperson, the prospect will either take them to PLUTO or URANUS.
Among these prospects, you will come across some we can call “imposters”. They are the most dangerous people who can enter your sales funnel, because they will act like they really want to buy your product, but have no intention of doing so. If you do not eliminate them during your information gathering phase, they will follow the path all the way along the line. This type of prospect leads to 2 premature effects:
- They will waste your time if you have to give them the full presentation and sale pitch.
- They create confusion for the salesperson who will wonder “when did it all go wrong?”
These time wasters, known as “lookie-loos”, represent between 30% and 40% of the people who enter your sales funnel. During the prospection phase, many salespeople do not ask permission to ask the potential customer questions. The salesperson may then come across like a member of the Spanish Inquisition, who has no consideration for the other person. If you want to close a sale, prepare all your questions in advance and remember them in the right order. Every error on your part will have a negative impact. If you ask your question with the wrong tonality, you will get their hackles up and lose your credibility as an expert.
8.1 – Sort through your prospects
If you want to close a sale, you need to make a distinction between 2 types of marketing that exist:
|Offline marketing (off the internet)||Online marketing (on the internet)|
|– TV advertising
– Radio advertising
– Newspaper and magazine advertising
– Advertising billboards
– Relational and educational marketing
– Door-to-door campaigns
|– Advertising on social media
– Return forms
– Natural referencing
– And many more…
Whether you work with online or offline marketing, your goal will be the same: convince as many people as possible to enter your sales funnel and turn them into customers. Remember that if you succeed in turning half your qualified prospects into customers, then you are looking at truly exceptional results. 4 types of buyer can enter your funnel:
- Buyers in heat: They are the most motivated buyers. They already know that your product will relieve their pain and they are ready to adopt it immediately. In contrast to the other types of buyers, they are proactive. Depending on the sector, they can represent 10% to 20% of all the buyers in your funnel.
- Buyers in power: These are the ones who are not really aware of their pain, even though they have a need. They will make the decision to buy your product only if they are sure that they have found the best solution to their problem. They are more numerous than the previous category, somewhere between 30% and 40% of the buyers that enter your sales funnel.
- The lookie-loos or tyre-kickers:
- They tend to ask a lot of questions, but seem to already know the answers.
- They tend to overkick the tyres of whatever you are selling and pick holes in every argument.
- The emit a large number of “oohs” and “aahs” and even “yeps” to heighten the impression of interest.
- As soon as you get onto the subject of money, they either become overconfident or unnecessarily vague.
- The buyers by mistake: These are the people who end up in your funnel by mistake.
The first two types of buyer may move along the straight line. However, the other 2 categories of buyer must be ejected. Especially the “lookie-loos”. Thankfully, it is fairly simple to spot them. If you don’t want to waste your time making full presentations, you are going to have to sift through the ones that made it into your funnel by mistake and eject them.
8.2 – The 10 rules of straight line prospecting
- Rule number 1 – You are a sifter, not an alchemist
You cannot turn buyers by mistake and lookie-loos into buyers in power or buyers in heat.
- Rule number 2 – Always ask permission to ask questions
While this may seem obvious, you must never forget to apply this rule if you want to do your job as an expert properly. Your information gathering will be more productive for it.
- Rule number 3 – Always work off a script
During the prospecting phase, you should have your own script, because each sector has its own set of unique questions that need to be asked in the right order. What’s more, if you know what you are going to say, you will find the right tonality and the right information to convey.
- Rule number 4 – Go from less invasive questions to more invasive questions
The first questions allow you to build up a rapport while actively listening to the other person. Each of the non-invasive questions will gradually give the right to ask more invasive questions. Diversify the nature of the questions to mitigate the effect.
- Rule number 5 – Ask each question using the right tonality
Don’t forget that there are no unimportant questions. Each of your questions needs the right tonality to maximise sincere answers while taking care to maintain the rapport with the other person.
- Rule number 6 – Use the correct body language in response to the prospect
If you want to close a sale you must use active listening to reach the highest level of rapport when it comes to making your offer.
Here are some techniques for a face to face meeting:
- Nod your head when the other person speaks to show that you are on the same wavelength.
- Nod your head while narrowing your eyes and compressing your lips when the person makes an important point.
- Narrow your eyes, compress your lips, slowly nod your head and emit some appropriate “aahs” and “oohs” to show that you empathise with their pain.
- Lean in when you ask an emotional question and lean in more when the other person answers.
- Lean back when asking a logical question. When the person answers, lean back a little more. Nod to show understanding and scratch your chin pensively.
You need to make use of active listening when working on the phone, adding “oohs” and “ahhs” when the person answers your questions. That way you show your understanding and that you are on the same wavelength.
- Rule number 7 – Always follow a logical path
The human brain can analyse a series of questions to decide whether or not they are being asked in logical order. If the order is not right, the brain will raise the alarm – you are not an expert in your field. You can write a list of questions to ask during the prospecting phase and change the order to what seems most logical to you. Each question must lead to the next one.
- Rule number 8 – Make mental notes. Don’t resolve their pain
You are mentally qualifying your prospect. Depending on their answers, you are going to increase their pain by asking questions. These questions should make them think that if they don’t act quickly, their problems are going to get worse. They must feel the effect of their lack of action.
- Rule number 9 – Always end with a powerful transition
It is time to eliminate the buyers who are there by mistake and the tyre-kickers. But don’t forget that a prospect who is not qualified today may become so tomorrow. If you are absolutely sure that your product will improve their quality of life and make their pain disappear, then you can try a simple transition like this: “Well, <Your Prospect’s Name>, this product is perfect for your needs. Let me explain why…”
- Rule number 10 – Stay on the straight line
If you want to close a sale, you must never stray from the straight line. Follow an intuitive and logical path as you ask your questions. Only novices push too hard and end up shooting off to PLUTO or URANUS.
Part 9: The art and science of making world-class sales presentations
Salespeople often think that they should bring up all the benefits of their service or product during a presentation. When the pitch is way too long, the other person will lose interest before they are even halfway through. When there are too many heavyweight arguments, they lose their strength and get muddled up in the potential customer’s head. Worse still, by using imbalanced sentences, their level of certainty will fall drastically, because the ear rapidly understands that something is not right.
To be able to get to a good basic level of certainty, a salesperson needs charisma, the impression that creating a rapport with that person requires no effort whatsoever. Creating that connection between a salesperson and a prospect is based on three thoughts that they will have about you:
- S/he understands me
- S/he cares about me
- And S/he feels my pain.
All you have to do is look like an expert to get the commission. Charisma can be achieved by anyone, and you only have to be “good enough” at it to start reaping the benefits. It requires:
- Effective use of tonality
- Targeted use of body language
- Not saying stupid stuff.
To increase your prospect’s level of certainty and make great presentations, you need a script. Jordan Belfort’s method is to invite readers to look at their 10 best presentations and keep the best bits. That way, you have your best lines in the right order. In the end, you will know how to sell your product thanks to the perfect presentation that you can use for your future meetings.
Here are the 8 guidelines for your scripts:
- Your script must be short and concise: The success of a script is based on how it is structured.
- Focus on the benefits, not the features: Your potential customer just wants to know what will make their life easier.
- Your script should contain stopping-off points: You need to be able to continue to chat to the other person and keep them in the conversation.
- The script must be written in familiar, spoken English: Use language that is natural and spontaneous, as though speaking with a friend.
- Your script must be flow perfectly: Correct any words that are hard to pronounce, a sudden transition, etc.
- Your script must be honest and ethical: It can be sexy and passionate and still pass on precise information.
- You must insist on the overarching equation of “benefits in, energy out”: As soon as they say “Yes” or “All right”, remind them of the countless advantages they are going to enjoy. For example: “< Your Prospect’s Name”, from now on things are going to be pretty simple. If I can just get your name and some other important information, we are going to take care of you right away. And when you combine that with [advantage#1], [advantage#2] and [advantage#3], well, you know < Your Prospect’s Name >, the only problem you’re going to have is when you realise you should have bought more. Sound fair enough?”.
- Have an entire series of scripts: You can use up to 5 or 6 different scripts. Here are some examples of when to use a script:
- A script with the first 4 seconds that contains the language patterns for your presentation, the questions that have come from your prospecting phase and your transition towards the presentation of your product or service.
- The script that begins with your presentation of the product or service and ends with the language patterns, where you are going to ask whether the person wants to place an order for the first time.
- A script that includes all the rebuttal arguments. That means all your answers to the prospect’s objections (and you can expect them).
- A script with all the language patterns of your loops that you can use to increase the level of certainty.
9.1 – The framework for your scripts
Here are some hints and tips when it comes to writing your presentation language patterns and your conclusion:
- Step one: At the end of your transition, give the following in this order:
- The name of your product
- Introduce yourself
- Say the name of your company
- Step two: Don’t go over one or two paragraphs for your next sequence. Emphasise just one benefit that will satisfy your customer’s need. You can use a metaphor, comparisons, refer to a respected person or institution in your presentation.
- Step three: To end this pattern, ask the following question, or a similar one: “Are you following me so far?” If your prospect says “Yes”, you can go on to the next phase. Otherwise you can tear up the contract.
- Step four: Repeat steps 2 and 3 up to a maximum of twice.
- Step five: Create a sense of urgency during your transition towards the conclusion. However, if your line of business does not really involve urgency, do not make something up.
- Step six: During your presentation and your conclusion, explain the benefits that the customer will reap in relation to the energy invested.
- Step seven: You can now ask if they would like to place an order, without using any undue pressure. For example: “Give me one shot, and believe me, if I’m even half-right, the only problem you’ll have is that I didn’t call you six months ago and get you started then. Sound fair enough?”
To increase the level of certainty, you will always begin by introducing solid logical arguments and then move onto tugging at the emotional strings. Using a script is essential, whether in person or over the phone. If you are meeting your potential customer in person, you will have to learn the script by heart. After a while, you will see the results. Even if you are just average, you will considerably increase your conversion rate. Continue to practice and train using the final scripts after you have finished writing them.
Part 10: Dealing with objections.
It doesn’t matter what product you are selling, the first time you ask whether the other person wants to place an order, there are 3 possible answers:
- Yes – the sale is closed (absolute certainty).
- No – They are not interested and you need to end the meeting and move on (insufficient certainty).
- Maybe – They are still hesitating (insufficient certainty).
When the time comes to close a sale, you are going to have to deflect the first objection. You can do this in two steps:
- Acknowledge the objection: Use this language pattern: “I hear what you’re saying” with the voice of reason to maintain the rapport while indicating that you are listening to them and you respect their opinion.
- Ask another question: You can use another version of this language pattern: “Let me ask you a question … Does the idea make sense to you?” or “Do you like the idea?” Your question is put in such a way that you don’t really leave them with any choice other than to say “yes”. Your measurement tool will be the level of enthusiasm that you can perceive in their response.
Their level of certainty partially depends on the product you are selling. If it has a good reputation, you will find it easier to reach a level of certainty that is close to 10 for your product. When it comes to closing a sale, you need to picture yourself cracking a 5 digit code:
- The first digit is the trust the prospect has in your product: You need to hit a minimum of 3 on the scale of certainty. Around 20% of your prospects will agree to buy after the first loop.
- The second digit is the trust the prospect has in you as a person.
- The third digit is the trust the prospect has in your company.
- The fourth digit is the trust the prospect has in their own threshold for action.
- The fifth digit is the trust the prospect has in their own pain.
To get the prospect to trust your product:
If their level of certainty is below 3, you may as well end the meeting in an amiable manner and move on. On the other hand, for any situations over this limit, you can use and adapt the following language pattern: “Exactly, now is the time to buy, < Your Prospect’s Name >! In fact, one of the major benefits in this context is …” and you go on to your second presentation. It needs to be fascinating. Your potential customers need to be convinced by your logical arguments.
To confirm that there is a good level of certainty, you can use the following language pattern: “You see what I’m saying, < Your Prospect’s Name >? Do you like the idea?” Usually, thanks to the previous presentation, you will get an answer like this: “Absolutely! I love the idea! That makes perfect sense to me” and you answer “Exactly, it really is the time to buy < The Name of Your Product”.
To get the prospect to trust you:
If you meet an objection at this stage, instead of answering frankly, you should deflect it. You don’t want the person to feel ignored. Show you understand their position. As soon as they admit that a lack of trust is holding them back, you can answer in a very pleasant voice: “That’s something I can understand! You don’t know me and you don’t have any information that can prove my skills. Let me introduce myself. My name is [ Your first and last name ], I’m a [ job title ] with [ The name of your company ] since [ Number of ] years and I am pleased to …”. You can write a flattering portrait of yourself in 2 or 3 versions.
To get the prospect to trust your company:
You can promote your company using the following words as a transition: “Not only can I guide you through the selling phase, but I can also guide you through the buying phase. As for my company… < The name of your company >, it is one of the most respected …”. As with the previous phase, you can write 2 or 3 portraits praising your company, on both a logical and emotional level.
You can end this sequence by saying: “So < Your Prospect’s Name > why don’t we… “ or: “So, all I’m asking you is to…”. To finish, move onto your conclusion. Now you can ask the person if they want to place an order for the second time.
10.1 – Lower your prospect’s action threshold
The arguments you use to refute the customer’s objection are not important. All the answers that you can give are an opportunity to talk some more. As soon as they throw up a second objection, you can go back and perform a second loop to increase their level of certainty about your product, about you and about your company. Instead of going straight to your conclusion, you can use a language pattern to decipher what constitutes their action threshold. This is the level of certainty a person needs to find to feel confident enough to make a decision to buy. The human brain runs 2 parallel films:
- A positive version with all the potential benefits
- A negative version with all the risks of failure
If you are in a situation where they display absolute certainty about your product, you as a person and your company, but despite your best efforts you cannot get them to place an order, and they say something to the effect of:
- Let me think about it.
- Send me some information.
- I’ll call you back.
Then, in order to close the sale, you are going to have to lower their action threshold. There are 4 ways to do this:
- Offer them a money-back guarantee.
- Offer a cooling off or recession period.
- Use key phrases to counter the concerns that are holding them back because they have a very high action threshold.
- (The most effective method) – Use a language pattern that can reverse your prospect’s negative film that is playing in their head.
The paradox is that once convinced, prospects with a high action threshold will go on to be loyal to you through thick and thin.
10.2 – Lower your prospect’s pain threshold
For those who remain undecided about making a purchase, you can trigger the act of buying by decoding the last digit in the combination, that of their “pain threshold”. In many ways, you are going to hack their level of certainty. People who are feeling a great deal of pain tend to place orders quickly. A word of warning, however. If they show signs of annoyance or their laughter sounds forced, then you may have gone too far. They could be feeling under pressure. You can introduce pain at 2 opportunities:
- During the intelligence gathering phase to identify the pain points and find out if you can increase their effect.
- Then you can go on to reintroduce the pain with this language pattern: “< Your Prospect’s Name >, you say to me that you are worried about …, in particular that …, without…”. You are raising their pain level by asking what they think is going to happen if they do not take action. Your tone will be resolutely empathic. They will often answer: “At best, I’ll be in the same spot I find myself now, but it will probably be worse”. Adopting a tone that say “I feel your pain” and “I care”, you can answer: “I get it < Your Prospect’s Name >, I’ve seen this a thousand times and I know that problems don’t solve themselves. The only answer is to take serious action here. In fact, let me tell you that one of the true beauties here is that…” You go on to describe a pain-free future using strong language patterns and then you can ask, once again, if they want to place an order.
If, despite all your efforts, the person brings up the same objections again, then you can walk out of their life. Only use your potential customer’s pain to improve their situation. Show them that they are making the right decision, getting what they truly need.
Conclusion to “Way of the Wolf – Straight line selling: Master the art of persuasion, influence and success” by Jordan Belfort
A universal guide to selling
“The Way of the Wolf – Straight line selling: Master the art of persuasion, influence and success” is a guide to selling in its broadest sense. It concerns any kind of organisation, from an independent person to a corporate sales fleet. The Way of the Wolf talks to salespeople of all levels, from beginners to experts. It helped me to understand the sales process, methods and psychological tools to convince a prospect to place an order.
- The author helps us to visualise the sales process, from start to finish, using the concept of “straight-line selling”.
- It delivers the 3 basic conditions required to close a sale. Get the person to:
- Trust your product
- Belief you
- Trust your company
- We learn how to deal with objections in order to close a sale and also to know when to give up.
“Way of the Wolf – Straight line selling: Master the art of persuasion, influence and success” dumbs down the sales process to speak to novices and experts alike. In my opinion, it is a very good book to introduce the art of selling.
- The Way of the Wolf rationalises the sales process and sales techniques.
- There are stories about some of Jordan Belfort’s experiences that illustrate his sales methods and remind us of the “The Wolf of Wall Street” in which he was played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
- The author knows his subject backwards and demonstrates his many techniques for persuasion.
- I would have liked some illustrations of the different language patterns to use with a prospect to better visualise the real life situation.
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