Jordan Belfort

Jordan Belfort says his method of persuasion will work for anybody. Picture: Stuart McEvoy

dicaprio wolf of wall street

Leonardo DiCaprio seen wearing a Prince of Wales patterned suit while filming on the set of ‘The Wolf Of Wall Street’ in New York. Picture: Splas

JORDAN Belfort knows the secret of persuading people.

Or at least that’s what he tells me.

In the 1990s the infamous “Wolf of Wall Street” developed a system of persuading and selling that saw him earning $50 million a year on the stock market. It also led to a stint in jail after he developed a massive drug addiction and was found guilty of manipulating shares.

Now 12 years sober, he is a bad-boy-turned-good author and speaker, touring his Straight Line System for making “the perfect sale” around Australia this month. But how do you stand out from the sea of ex-cons and former drug addicts who find a righteous path and spin it into a motivational-speaker career?

It helps, Mr Belfort says, that Leonardo DiCaprio is starring in a Martin Scorsese-directed film about his controversial life.

“I’m lucky that I have this movie coming out and a lot of the movie is about the Straight Line System, it’s a big part of the movie and it actually moves the action forward,” he said.

And, Mr Belfort says, his system is still used by major firms all over Wall Street.

He is intense. Charming and engaging, it’s easy to see why he’s a world leader in the sales training industry. But a conversation with Mr Belfort provides some insight into his wolfish past.

His overwhelming positivity was punctured twice when he growled at his quiet entourage for making too much noise (“You’re killing me!”), and he spent our conversation drinking Red Bull (the hard drugs swapped for caffeine).

Back on message, Mr Belfort said his persuasion tactics can be useful for anyone, not just sales people.

People can use the Straight Line System to persuade their boss to give them a pay rise or persuade a prospective employer to hire them.

“It’s [useful] for any employee who wants to increase their value in the workplace,” he said.

“There’s the truth about what you do and your level of expertise and then there’s also how you’re able to communicate what you do to other people.

“In the end it always comes down to your ability to communicate your product, your ideas and you vision for the future and to get someone to buy into that with either their time or their money.”


dicaprio fbi wolf of wall street

Leonardo DiCaprio films a scene where he gets out of helicopter and is arrested by the FBI in ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’. Picture: Splash

How to ask for a raise

There are three things you have to communicate when you want to ask for a pay rise.

“Number one is the value of the product, which is you, and both the job you’re doing now and what you can do for the company over the long term,” Mr Belfort said.

Then in the moment when you’re actually selling your idea to your boss, you have to get into a rapport where they trust and connect with you (see how to do that below).

Finally, you have to be clear about what you’re asking for.

“You say I’d like a raise for X amount of dollars and you offer the benefits that you’re going to give for that raise,” he said.

How to persuade someone to hire you

You have to think about it in terms of “selling yourself” to your prospective employer.

“Saying ‘I really want a job here’ would be the lowest level of persuasion,” Mr Belfort said. “Versus ‘Let me tell you what I can add here in value and how I see myself fitting in’.”

And where do you see yourself in five years?

“It’s a question you always get asked, and the best answer is ‘I see myself growing in my own job here and eventually getting to the point where I can manage other people and pass on the skills I’ve learned to the people around me’.”

The first four seconds

You have to make a good first impression and you can’t do it just using words.

“It’s your tonality and your body language which allows you to be established as someone worth listening to,” Mr Belfort said. “Certain tones are pleasing to the ear and imply certainty about what you’re saying.”

Build a rapport

Now you have their attention, you need to open somebody up to want to talk to you.

“It’s how you phrase your questions and how you listen to somebody,” Mr Belfort said.

“If somebody’s talking to you and it’s a logical thing they’re talking about, like about their business, you’re leaning back and listening intently.

“And when it’s emotional, about the struggles they’re facing or if their family comes up, you lean forward and [nod to show you understand].”

You should also match the general posture and pace at which the other person is talking.

“So if someone is unenthusiastic and seems disconnected to your message you don’t keep talking at them in a tone that is overly positive and enthusiastic – you match their tone and build up to a level where you sound enthusiastic again,” he said.

Always be asking questions

When you ask someone a lot of thoughtful questions you make the person feel like they’re in good hands.

“The thing with great sales people, top level entrepreneurs and business people is that they’re experts in asking questions and based on that they know how to offer a solution,” Mr Belfort said.

So what counts as a “good” question?

Your goal is to work out what people need, but you also need to understand the context.

“What do they value? What are their beliefs about buying and making decisions? What’s causing them the most discomfort right now?” Mr Belfort said.

You have to listen and don’t try to solve their problem while you’re still working out what it is.

“The biggest mistake that novice salespeople make is they try to sell [their product] before they get the full picture [of what someone wants] which is very disempowering for the client,” he said.

How to identify what’s wrong with people…

To convince people to buy something they have to love the product both logically (so they believe they need it) and emotionally (so they feel good about having it). They have to trust and connect with you as the salesperson. And they have to be thinking about the problem they have and why you can solve it.

“At a certain point one of the questions I always ask is ‘What is your greatest headache right now?'” Mr Belfort said.

“I wouldn’t ask it first but as I get into deeper and tighter rapport it opens me up to ask those more invasive, troubling questions and if they already sense I’m an expert and a figure of authority they’ll reveal their pain to you,” he said.

… and how to use it to get a job or a promotion

“Whatever your job is the people who are your superiors are facing struggles,” Mr Belfort said.

If you can build a successful rapport with your boss they’ll tell you what their struggles are and what they want you to do.

“Know the people who hired you, what are they looking for and how you give them the most value,” he said.

When you know what to focus on in your work, and once you are performing and proving you are valuable you can go back and ask for that pay rise or promotion.

Jordan Belfort is touring Australian this month to teach his Straight Line Sales technique.

The Wolf of Wall Street film will be released on November 15.

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