What Can Today’s Sales Representative Learn from Jordan Belfort

Jordan Belfort is an American author, motivational speaker, and former well-known stockbroker. He is the controversial figure whose memoir formed the basis of Leonardo DiCaprio’s unhinged stockbroker in Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-nominated black comedy The Wolf of Wall Street.

Did Belfort paint a realistic picture of business? In short, probably not. However, that doesn’t mean that real-life business lessons can’t be learned from him. Although he casts the financial sales profession in a negative light, his surreal story does highlight a few valuable lessons for sales representatives.

But before mentioning the lessons, it’s better to know more about Jordan Belfort’s life.

Jordan Belfort’s Business Career –

  • Belfort had a natural talent as a salesman at an early age.
  • Belfort and his close childhood friend Elliot Loewenstern earned $20,000 selling Italian ice from styrofoam coolers to people at a local beach.
  • In the 1980s, he operated a door-to-door meat and seafood business on Long Island, New York. Belfort grew his meat-selling business to employ several workers and sell 5,000 pounds (2,300 kilograms) of beef and fish weekly. After that company went bust, he filed for bankruptcy at 25.
  • Belfort began selling stocks in 1987. According to his memoirs and interviews, a family friend helped him find a job as a trainee stockbroker at L.F. Rothschild. He was laid off after that firm experienced financial difficulties related to the Black Monday stock market crash.
  • Yet, Belfort never gave up the stockbroker job; after working for penny stocks, he was running his own investment operation, Stratton Oakmont, by 1989.
  • Nicknamed “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Jordan Belfort made millions in the 1990s through his investment company. But it was illegal because he defrauded its investors. With his partner, Danny Porush, Belfort raked in cash using a “pump and dump” scheme. His brokers pushed stocks onto their unsuspecting clients, which helped inflate the stocks’ prices. Then, the company would sell off its holdings in these stocks at a great profit.
  • Today, his proprietary Straight Line System allows him to take virtually any company or individual, regardless of age, race, sex, educational background, or social status. He empowers them to create massive wealth, abundance, and entrepreneurial success without sacrificing integrity or ethics.

Lessons Learnt from Jordon Belfort’s Life –

1. Have a goal and Aim :

Nobody wants to hear about what you’re doing next year; they want to see what you’re doing now. Simply having goals is not enough. You need an aim as well. An End Game (pun intended) of what you want your world to be in the future. Set achievable goals that keep your hands and legs busy, as opposed to your mouth. In reality, success isn’t measured in dollars or cents; it’s a mentality you should start striving for today — in whatever it is you’re doing, whether big or small. As Belfort says, “If you want to be rich, you have to program your mind to be rich.”

You can view Belfort’s net worth here.

2. Be Perceptive :

Your appearance reflects your reputation and work ethic. Always dress for the part. If you’re not qualified for the part, at least look qualified for the part. In such a materialistic world, the sad truth is that you can’t sell stocks dressed like a used car salesman. It’s all about presentation. People are lazy and easily fooled. If a nice pair of shoes is what it costs to get your foot in the door, then buy those shoes right away!

3. Persistence : 

Don’t hang up until the customer dies or buys.” This is one of Belfort’s main mottos. According to Belfort, “no” was simply not an option. To him, a good salesman will sell salt to the slug and have it coming back for more — unless it dies. Buying into yourself before trying to sell yourself to others is key. Confidence is key. Customers who aren’t sold on you’ll never buy into what you’re selling. But do not cross your limits because that would do more bad than good.

4. Guard Your Secrets : 

Jordan Belfort carefully guarded his secrets because his business was illegal. Your business might not be illegal, but it is surely supposed to be kept a secret for proprietary purposes. Hence, hire loyal employees who will not leak your business secrets. Make sure to double-check the ones you appoint, your partners, and your clients.

5. Make it a Happy Team :

There’s no room for selfishness within your organization. It would only lead to internal chaos. But, not every team needs to be a “super team.” The more qualified worker is not always better than the man who will go that extra mile for you. Compile a team of trusted people to go those extra few miles for you. Make sure to keep your team happy. Work is not working without play. So, hack some happiness at your workplace and reward success, but make sure not to exceed the limits as depicted in the movie. This is necessary because, as you can see in the movie, the employees love to work there because they enjoy it.

6. Failure is good :

You might have heard a million times, how Thomas Edison failed many times to get that one success of a light bulb. So, failure might be the most powerful tool for success. You can never be truly hungry until you haven’t eaten for days. In the same light, you will never crave success until you’ve been dealt your share of defeat. Belfort’s first business was selling meat and seafood. He failed miserably. Hence, don’t take failure as a stop sign; rather, accept it as a detour.

7. Lead by a Good Example and Set the Standard :

No one over at Stratton Oakmont spent more money on buying luxury items, drugs, prostitutes, or partying than Jordan Belfort. He represented the epitome of the lifestyle that the employees sought to achieve. If he had got the same success without doing any of that stuff, then his employees wouldn’t have to do it either. So, portray a good example in front of your employees and set the perfect standard because they always look up to you.   Jordan Belfort is a man who made the impossible possible and transformed from a fearless wolf into a brave lamb who teaches the world how to be successful. When everything is all said and done, it’ll be up to you to reap your harvest, or you’ll spend your whole life in the field waiting for someone else to. But legally.

A Famous Example: “Sell me this Pen.”

It’s a classic pair of scenes. Leonardo DiCaprio, playing former stockbroker Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street, takes a pen out of his pocket and challenges top sales executives to sell him that pen.

It looks like a real challenge for any sales professional—the kind of question that can separate a real salesperson from those who are never going to hit their targets. It’s no surprise that hiring staff across the country have copied this technique. Why try to think up a tough interview question when Martin Scorsese has just handed you one? It’s still a good question, not because it’s tough but because it’s easy.

If your prospective employee doesn’t know the answer, then he or she probably doesn’t know the basics of selling. If you want to sell the pen, you ask the buyer questions. You ask him how long he’s been looking for a pen, why he wants a pen, what owning a pen means to him, etc. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling. You have to know the buyer. You have to give him a story that builds an emotional attachment to the product. It’s not a big trick. Today’s sales channels have made meeting that challenge easier than ever, even when all you’re selling is a ball pen.

Quotes –

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.” 

“Without action, the best intentions in the world are nothing more than that: intentions.” 

“No matter what happened to you in your past, you are not your past, you are the resources and the capabilities you glean from it. And that is the basis for all change.”

“I want you to back yourself into a corner. Give yourself no choice but to succeed. Let the consequences of failure become so dire and so unthinkable that you’ll have no choice but to do whatever it takes to succeed.”

 “I’ve got the guts to die. What I want to know is, have you got the guts to live?” 

“Act as if! Act as if you’re a wealthy man, rich already, and then you’ll surely become rich; act as if you have unmatched confidence, and then people will surely have confidence in you. Act as if you have unmatched experience, and then people will follow your advice, and act as if you are already a tremendous success, and as sure as I stand here today—you will become successful.”

About Navaneetha

Navaneetha, popularly known as "nav", loves to read, play badminton, play the keyboard and sing but when she's not doing any of those, she loves to write. What started as a high school hobby to write is now her ongoing passion. At AeroLeads, she manages Inbound Marketing and Social Media Marketing.

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