Way of the Wolf: Become a Master Closer with Straight Line Sellingby Jordan Belfort
A step-by-step guide that explains how to close deals. This approach simplifies the sales process and allows you to hone your sales skills, facilitating the conversion of prospects to clients and then lifelong customers.
Cracking the Code for Sales and Influence
“Don’t you guys get it? Every sale is the same!”
Every sale is the same. It does not matter what you are selling, how you are selling it, the cost, or whether you are selling over the phone or in person. Before you get the chance to close the sale, the three key elements, or what we call the “three tens,” must be aligned in your prospects’ minds.
The first of the “three tens” is your product, idea, or concept. Your prospect needs to love your product to rate it a 10. If you receive a 1, it means your prospect despises your product. A rating from 3 to 7 represents ambivalence. This may seem negative, but you can change it.
The second of the “three tens” measures your prospect's trust and connection with you. Your prospect needs to recognize you as likable, trustworthy, an expert in your field, customer-focused, and a problem-solver.
The third element is that your prospect must trust and connect with your company. If you work for a company with an impeccable reputation, your prospects will walk into the sale with a high expectation of certainty across all three tens.
It’s important to remember that you will only get a rating of 10 if your prospect is certain about the sale. At some point on this scale of certainty, everyone walks into a sales encounter. Your prospect’s beliefs, values, opinions, experiences, incidents, and decision-making strategies will all feed into the scenario presented to them.
Actions to take
Inventing the Straight Line
“It was at that very moment when it suddenly hit me, the idea that every sale was the same.”
Every sale follows a straight line pattern: it’s open at the beginning and closed at the end. Everything you say and do is focused on keeping your prospect on this straight line until the end.
In a perfect sale, the prospect should already be pre-sold on the deal before starting the process. However, this hardly ever happens in reality. Usually, your prospect is trying to take you off the straight line and take control of the conversation themselves.
There are healthy boundaries above and below the straight line, where you can keep control of the sale and move forward to close the deal. However, the client will take control if you go outside these boundaries. When you are within the healthy range, great things happen. You are consciously and unconsciously building rapport and gathering intelligence.
When making a sale, always keep in mind the elements of the straight line system: Your prospect must love your product and trust and connect with you and your company.
There are two other elements to add to the system to help deal with any objections from prospects. The first one is lowering the action threshold, which involves boosting certainty in your prospect, so they take action and buy, like offering them a money-back guarantee. The second is raising the pain threshold, which involves highlighting pain points, so the prospect is more compelled to buy.
Actions to take
The First Four Seconds
“For better or worse, we have to accept the fact that, as human beings, we’re basically fear-based creatures.”
As humans, we are constantly sizing up our surroundings and making snap decisions based on how we perceive them. This means it would take only a quarter of a second for a prospect to decide based on what you tell them when you meet in person and just four seconds over the phone.
If you screw up in the first four seconds, then you have a maximum of 10 seconds to turn things around. The point of not judging a book by its cover is noble, but the truth is that we all judge a book by its cover.
To take control of the sale, you must come across as a person worth listening to—someone who gets to the point quickly, does not waste their time, has solutions for their problems, and will be an asset to them over the long term.
This doesn’t mean being a talking head or the one who keeps talking while your prospects just sit and listen. Rather, you need to be an expert capable of both listening and speaking to them well.
Actions to take
Tonality and Body Language
With so much communication taking place over the phone these days, how can you ensure you're being perceived correctly when your prospects can't even see you? The answer is simple: your tone of voice.
How you tell your message can significantly impact how it is perceived and how you are perceived, not only during the first four seconds but across the entire sales conversation. The human ear is adept at recognizing tonal shifts, with the slightest one having a dramatic impact on the meaning of a word or phrase.
If a sales encounter takes place in person, body language becomes important too. Together, these two aspects constitute the majority of unconscious communication.
In essence, your tone of voice, body movements, facial expressions, smile, eye contact, and any sounds you make all have a massive impact on how you are perceived. However, when we begin to speak, words remain the most important element of communication strategy. But since we communicate without speaking 90% of the time, unconscious communication is vital for being perceived as a true expert.
When speaking to prospects, you need to pay attention to your voice modulation as it allows you to make declarative statements, create impact and build rapport with your prospect.
Meanwhile, enthusiasm creates massive emotional certainty in a prospect as they get an overwhelming sense that your product has to be good. However, instead of instilling over-the-top enthusiasm, which can be perceived negatively by the client, try bottled enthusiasm, which sits just below the surface and bubbles over as you speak.
Your prospect’s decisions will be guided by their conscious and unconscious mind, especially during the critical opening seconds and at the end of the sale. Whether you’re talking to them in person or over the phone, use your communication skills to influence both your prospects’ conscious and unconscious minds.
Actions to take
“As a salesperson, or as any success-oriented person, you must learn how to start triggering the key empowered states; otherwise, you set yourself up for a lifetime of pain.”
There is a powerful visualization technique called future pacing. This involves running an imaginary movie through your mind, imagining yourself having already achieved a certain outcome in the future.
Essentially, managing your emotional state allows you to temporarily block out any troubling thoughts or emotions that would normally make you feel negative, resulting in a positive state of mind. This is called state management.
State management is critical to success as it determines whether or not you will be able to access your internal resources at the precise moment in the sale to achieve your desired outcome. If you are in an empowered state, you will be on track for success.
The human brain functions similarly to a computer in that certain key behavioral patterns can be programmed to change. You can maintain your empowered state by choosing what to focus on and controlling your physiology (your breathing, posture, facial expressions, etc.).
With a little classic Pavlovian conditioning (conditioning yourself to associate two unrelated items so you can trigger your desired response), you'll be able to keep your empowered state of mind.
Actions to take
“Let’s pick up right where we left off, starting with a detailed explanation of each of the ten core tonalities that drive human influence.”
When you speak to a prospect in a situation of influence, they are listening to your words as well as their inner monologue, in which they debate the pros and cons of what they understand.
Born salespeople can influence this inner monologue by automatically adapting their tonality (tone of voice) to the conversation. They come across as certain, sincere, caring, sympathetic, and perfectly reasonable in influencing the direction of their prospect’s inner monologue, preventing it from narrating against them.
It may feel difficult to link your conscious and unconscious minds. Your outgoing communication becomes a watered-down version of what you want to say. This absence or lack of tonality limits you from moving your prospect emotionally and closing the sale.
One important point to remember when making sales is to maintain your ethics and integrity. There is no greater feeling than success achieved without cutting corners or acting unethically. Communication strategies based on the ten core tonalities are extremely powerful; however, they should never be used unethically or against your client's best interests.
Actions to take
Advanced Body Language
“The bottom line is that nonverbal communication is ten times more powerful than verbal communication, and it hits you with the force of a cannonball to the gut.”
Thoughts, feelings, and intentions are all communicated in how you move your body, in terms of space and time, posture, appearance, gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, and even the way you smell! When you speak to someone in person for the first time, they judge you in a microsecond.
While effective body language alone will not likely seal the deal, ineffective execution of body language can blow it. This will prevent you from building rapport with the client.
To gain tight rapport, you must show that you are sharp, on the ball, enthusiastic, and an expert through your body language. Moreover, you must make your prospect feel that you are actively listening to them through how you move your body and your facial expressions, including how you smile and groan when talking to them.
Matching is a great rapport-building strategy that boosts likability. When talking in person, you can adopt the same physiology as your prospect to establish rapport with them. Several examples include matching their body position, posture, and breathing rate.
When talking over the phone, on the other hand, you can match their tonality, rate of speech, and word choice. Make sure you do this casually (5-10 seconds after the prospect) to avoid looking like you are directly copying them.
Once you have built rapport, move on to the ‘pace, pace, lead’ phase of matching, where you steer your prospect in the direction you want them to go. If you match a person’s emotional state, you can calm them down, excite them, or make them feel certain about something. This enables you to change their emotional state from negative to positive and increase the level of their certainty.
Actions to take
The Art of Prospecting
“I mean, think about it for a second: how could you try to sell me something without knowing the first thing about me? It completely defies logic.”
Trying to sell something to someone who doesn’t need to want it is a fool’s errand. Instead, sift through prospects to separate those who are interested from ones who aren’t. This is known as the qualifying process.
A prospect is qualified primarily by answering a series of questions the salesperson poses. Their answers will tell you whether they need your product and if they can afford to pay for it.
The only way to make your prospects answer your questions is by making them believe you are a true expert in your field. This means being confident, eloquent, full of bottled enthusiasm, and capable of resolving their pain and helping them achieve their goals.
Four categories of buyers will enter your sales funnel, known as the four buying archetypes:
Buyers in heat – These are your best, most motivated buyers, who want, need, can benefit from, and afford your product. They are also prepared to make a buying decision now. The only downside is they make up only 10-20% of your prospects.
Buyers in power – The second-best group who intend to buy your product but lack the level of urgency as buyers in heat. This is because they aren’t consciously feeling any major pain from the unfilled need. They are still excellent prospects, making up 30-40% of total prospects.
Lookie-loos – The most dangerous group who disguise as buyers in power but never intend to buy your product. This wastes a lot of time and is highly demotivating for a novice salesperson.
Mistakes – People who never belonged in your sales funnel in the first place. Maybe they clicked on the wrong website or got dragged into your sales funnel by someone else, so you basically have no chance of closing them.
Only the buyers in heat and buyers in power should make it past intelligence gathering phases and down the Straight Line. Thus, the prospects in the remaining two categories must be weeded out as quickly as possible.
Actions to take
The Ten Rules of Straight Line Prospecting
“The ten rules of prospecting are meant to provide you with everything you’ll need to create a practical blueprint for gathering intelligence in your industry.”
Gathering intelligence in your industry is vital. As you follow these rules, you must keep relating them back to your own situation and adapt them to your current prospecting method.
- Rule #1: You are a sifter, not an alchemist: Don’t waste your time on lookie-loos and mistakes, as they will not convert into buyers in heat or buyers in power.
- Rule #2: Always ask for permission to ask questions: If you don’t ask for permission, you may be perceived as a Grand Inquisitor-type rather than a trusted advisor.
- Rule #3: Always use a script: Each industry has a unique set of questions that must be asked in a certain order across the prospecting process. Since you already know what you will say based on the script, you can focus more on tonality and active listening.
- Rule #4: Go from less invasive questions to more invasive questions: This approach allows you to build rapport by asking non-invasive questions first, paving the way to ask increasingly more invasive questions next.
- Rule #5: Ask each question using the right tonality: Every question has its best tonality, which maximizes the quality of the answer you receive from the prospect and ensures that you maintain rapport.
- Rule #6: Use the correct body language as the prospect responds: Be vigilant about following the active listening rules during the intelligence-gathering phase, focusing more on audible sounds if you are speaking with the prospect over the phone.
- Rule #7: Always follow a logical path: When you are asking intelligence-gathering questions, ensure you follow a logical path; otherwise, your prospect may regard you as unprofessional. This will enable you to build a better picture of your client, and you can ask follow-up questions based on their responses.
- Rule #8: Make mental notes; don’t resolve their pain: When qualifying a prospect, you should just ask questions and make notes on their responses. Don’t try to resolve their pain at this point. Instead, try to amplify the pain and pace it, highlighting the ramifications of not taking action.
- Rule #9: Always end with a powerful transition: The purpose of a transition is to move your prospect down the straight line to the next step of the sales process. If your product is not a good fit for them, you are morally obligated to tell them. This ethical approach can lead to referrals and future business. If your product is a great fit, you must communicate your 100% certainty!
- Rule #10: Stay on the straight line; don’t go spiraling off to Pluto!: Actively build rapport across the entire sales process. If your prospect goes off on a tangent, step up your active listening so they know you are interested in what they are saying, and then steer them back to the Straight Line.
Actions to take
The Art and Science of Making World-Class Sales Presentations
“Charisma is an attractive force that’s almost magnetic in nature, and its impact can be felt in a matter of seconds.”
When we speak of charisma as it relates to sales, we’re talking about that special charm or appeal that certain salespeople have that allows them to build rapport with their prospects effortlessly. This is reflected in three key distinctions that make the foundation on which rapport is built: “They care about me,” “they understand me,” and “they feel my pain.”
The power of charisma is vital to a salesperson’s success, and it is almost impossible to find a single top producer who doesn’t possess it in massive quantities. The good news is that charisma is an entirely learnable skill, and you can start seeing the benefits immediately.
It’s a good idea to start practicing with a script: a well-thought-out essence of the perfect sale. This is where your prospect will buy, or you can end the sales encounter positively.
The key to success here is to read a script and sound natural rather than obviously show that you are reading from a script. You also need to be able to write a script that also sounds natural. Anticipate everything that might possibly come up in a sale and be prepared in advance.
Actions to take
The Power of Language Patterns
“Every word that escapes your lips has been specifically designed to feed into one overarching goal, which is to increase your prospect’s level of certainty.”
Language patterns are bite-sized chunks of expertly crafted information, each with a specific goal in mind. You need to embed these language patterns into your Straight Line script.
There are language patterns designed to create logical and emotional certainty. These patterns are intended to increase certainty about you, your product, and your company, lower someone's action threshold and add pain.
The opening pattern is where you introduce yourself and your company and explain the reason for your visit or call while using different tones in your voice (tonality) and body language to position yourself as an expert. When doing this, try using an upbeat tone and say power words. Then, repeat your company name and ask permission to begin the qualification process.
The next language pattern is for the intelligence-gathering phase, which involves asking your prospect for permission to ask questions. You also need to lay out the questions you want to ask in the right order and with notations as to which tone of voice to use on each. During this pattern, you must demonstrate that you actively listen to the prospect’s responses to build rapport.
The last part of your opening script is transitioning to the main sales presentation, like saying, “Based on everything you said to me, this is a perfect fit for you.” You would then move on to the main body of the sales presentation.
The main part of the presentation has no specific language pattern to follow as this will vary from industry to industry. It’s important to develop powerful language patterns that impactfully describe your product/service offering, detail the benefits that fill the client's need, have stop-off points to check in with the client, create urgency and highlight a simplified buying process.
Once you have gone through the script-building process and finalized the draft, it is now time for training and drilling. Reading and practicing the script until you reach unconscious competence (you’ll know it by heart) will provide massive payoffs.
Actions to take
The Art and Science of Looping: The Power of Deflection
“The sale doesn’t truly begin until after your prospect hits you with the first objection; only then do you have the chance to finally roll up your sleeves and earn your paycheck.”
Regardless of what product you are selling, there are only three possible ways your prospect can respond the first time you ask them for the order. They may say yes, no, or maybe.
If they say yes, it just means the deal is closed, and it's time to complete the paperwork and collect payment. If they say no, it implies the prospect is not interested, and it’s time to end the sales encounter and move on to the next prospect. Ideally, you would have weeded out these prospects during the intelligence-gathering phase.
If, on the other hand, the prospect says 'maybe,' it means they are still undecided, and this could go either way.
If you are hit with an initial objection, the power of deflection is the best approach.This can be done by acknowledging what the prospect says to you and then shifting the conversation in a more productive direction. Here, you need to determine where your prospect stands in terms of certainty about your product, you, and your company on a scale of 1-10.
Once you know how certain your prospect is about the sale, determine whether you need to deliver a follow-up presentation or leave the sales encounter.
Remember that the prospect does not know you and therefore has no basis for trusting you. The first step is to bring this matter to the forefront and get the prospect to acknowledge it through an elegant language pattern. You can also gain the prospect's trust by telling him about yourself, your values, and how you can be an asset in the long run.
So, you’ve now resold your product, resold yourself, and now it’s time to resell the company that stands behind your product. Highlighting all the great things about your company and, if possible, offering the prospect the option of a step down to a smaller purchase will boost certainty levels and, subsequently, conversion rates.
Actions to take
The Art and Science of Looping: Objection Hopping
“Congratulations! You have reached the point in the sale where you’re going to get to experience the distinct displeasure of objection hopping.”
Objection hopping is when a prospect will switch from their original objection of needing to think about it to suddenly needing to speak to their accountant, asking you to send information, or telling you it is a bad time of year.
The real reason for the multiple objections is uncertainty. Instead of coming clean, the prospect will take the path of least resistance and use a smoke screen/excuse. If you try to refute the objection presented by the prospect, this will have no effect because the prospect does not really care about it at all.
In the case of a second objection, you have no option other than to address it head-on. The main thing to remember is that every rebuttal allows you to speak more, tackle the objection, and loop it back to the sale.
Prospects will all have different action thresholds. This is the collective level of certainty that a person needs to be at before feeling comfortable buying. Some may have a low action threshold and be extremely easy to sell to, while others are extremely hard to persuade. In prospects with high action thresholds, you need to lower their action threshold right on the spot.
Action thresholds can be lowered by offering money-back guarantees, cooling off periods, or addressing specific worries or concerns. Applying powerful language patterns to reframe human beings' negative and positive thoughts when making a buying decision is also effective. Highlight the positives with statements like, “If you do even half as well as the rest of my clients, the only problem you’re going to have is that you didn’t buy more.”
The third loop to address is the pain threshold. People who are feeling significant pain tend to act quickly, while those in denial act slowly. In terms of sales, pain points can be identified in the intelligence-gathering phase, where you can ask the prospect directly about their pain and address this in your presentation. At this later stage, you can reintroduce these pain points, empathize with them and tell them how you will resolve their worries and concerns.
At this point, if the prospect sticks to the same objection, you should probably just thank them and let them move on with their life. After all, you don’t want to be a high-pressured salesperson and keep running loop after loop. Just ensure you end the sales encounter on a positive note.