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By Eric Morse December 8, 2015

Five Sales Lessons Learned from The Wolf of Wall Street

The dark comedy The Wolf of Wall Street, directed by Martin Scorsese and featuring Leonardo DiCaprio, is a bio-pic of the “Wolf” himself, Jordan Belfort. Belfort was a stockbroker in the late 1980s and 1990s who rapidly rose to success with his corrupt brokerage empire, Stratton Oakmont.

An overnight millionaire, Belfort quickly adopted a lavish and gluttonous lifestyle that caught the eye of the FBI and ultimately led to his downfall. After a stint in prison, Belfort emerged a new man who lives a “straight edge” lifestyle and today, travels the world teaching sold-out sales training seminars. Although Belfort engaged in major criminal business practices during his Stratton Oakmont days, he was also an incredible salesman who practiced selling and management techniques that we can all learn from. Read on for our top five takeaways from the film.

  1. Love What You Do: After being fired from his first job on Wall Street following the 1987 stock market crash, Belfort was desperate for a job. He took a major demotion selling penny stocks but it was still in his line of work and allowed him to leverage his passion and continue honing his sales and negotiating skills, which led him to found his own firm, Stratton Oakmont.

  2. Motivate Your Team: Belfort was an excellent motivator for several reasons. First, he incentivized his team and celebrated his their wins, creating a competitive and energetic workplace. He also maintained open communication with his team and forged strong relationships with them that encouraged loyalty (when his firm went under initial investigation, not one employee broke their silence about Belfort's illegal activities). Lastly, he regularly joined his team on the sales floor to give training and motivational speeches, showing his personal investment and commitment to their success and the company's bottom line.

  3. Focus on Training: Belfort knew the importance of training his team and following an effective selling model, rather than just hiring traditional sales people and throwing them out on the sales floor. He practiced opportunity qualification, knew his prospect, and developed call scripts and campaigns to capture their interest and make it impossible for them to say "no". Ongoing sales training and committment to close, combined with hiring the right people - not always seasoned salesmen but people who were passionate about the job - made Belfort wildly successful.

  4. Know the Prospect: In order to reach his goals of building a multi-million dollar firm, Belfort had a specific prospect in mind - wealthy investors. He positioned Stratton Oakmont as an irresistable commodity to his desired prospect, developed messaging that spoke their language, and developed a personal style that appealed to them and gained their trust.

  5. Evoke Urgency: Mapping a product to a prospect's unique need and causing them to feel a desire to buy is the easiest way to close a sale because the prospect wants to purchase; they are happy with their investment since it feels like it was their own decision. Belfort trained his team on this concept by asking them to "sell me this pen". While many struggled through their pitch, one said "why don't you write down your name on a piece of paper for me", to which Belfort responded "I don't have a pen". In this moment, the salesperson established need and urgency, and proved Belfort's point.

While SRi certainly doesn't condone Belfort's fraudulent business practices or debaucherous lifestyle, we do believe there are some important lessons to be learned from his selling and management techniques. A successful sales manager needs to be passionate about his trade, know how lead and motivate their team, establish effective training, and know how to identify and approach a prospect.

Sales Result can help you acheive [non-criminal!] sales success by transforming your organization and developing your selling and management style. Visit our website to learn more about our sales consulting solutions and sign up for a free consultation.  

Topics: Sales Management

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