The movie The Wolf of Wall Street has made Jordan Belfort a household name. Jordan is an author, motivational speaker and former stockbroker who is renowned for his aggressive sales style.
Although Jordan was eventually charged with financial fraud and stock market manipulation — he was a masterful salesperson. In this post, I’m going to take a look at Jordan’s sales style as depicted in the movie to see what we can learn.
The Wolf of Wall Street Cold Call
Let’s take a look at a scene from the movie where Leonardo DiCaprio is cold calling a potential buyer of the penny stocks that he is selling. Leonardo is selling a product that is close to worthless, but he manages to convince the buyer of the item’s immense value. Here is what he says:
Jordan Belfort: “Hello John, how ya doing today?”
He immediately uses the prospects first name, using language that is very casual. It is the kind of language that you would use when calling a friend to see what they are up to on the weekend. This conveys a sense of familiarity and friendship with the prospect, improving the salesperson’s chances of keeping them on the line.
This opening line has a very different feeling compared to a more formal opening like “Good afternoon Mr Smith, my name is Jordan Belfort, can I have a moment of your time?”. This formal introduction is more likely to inform the prospect that this is a sales call, which could lead to the them hanging up immediately.
Jordan Belfort: “You mailed my company a postcard a few weeks back requesting information on penny stocks that had huge upside potential with very little downside. Does that ring a bell?”
Jordan immediately explains the reason for the call. This is critical when cold calling — prospects want to know the purpose for the call within the first 10 seconds. He also reminds the prospect that they initiated the call by sending a postcard.
However, the most interesting part of this line is that he is already making the offer more enticing to the prospect. It isn’t just a call about stocks, it is an exclusive call and excellent opportunity to make money.
Jordan Belfort: “Okay, great. The reason for the call today, John, is, something just came across my desk, John. It is perhaps the best thing I’ve seen in the last six months. If you have 60 seconds, I’d like to share the idea with you. You got a minute?”
In this section, he provides more information on the purpose of the call. He explains that he has an exciting and unique offer available. Leonardo’s tone is energetic as he explains the incredible opportunity that is available. He also uses the prospect’s name multiple times. This technique is useful for grabbing the prospect’s attention and ensuring they are listening to each word.
Leonardo then tells the prospect exactly how long the call will take, in two ways (sixty seconds and one minute). By informing the prospect that the call is short, he tells them that they won’t be spending much time talking on the phone. Since it’s a short call — why not play along and listen to the entire pitch?
If you listen closely to the conversation, you hear the prospect say “Actually, I’m really very…” but before he can say the word busy, Belfort has moved on.
Jordan Belfort: “The name of the company, Aerotyne International. It is a cutting edge high-tech firm out of the Midwest awaiting imminent patent approval on the next generation of radar detectors that have both huge military and civilian applications now.”
He jumps into a quick explanation of the product that he is promoting. Note the use of words like cutting edge, high-tech, and next generation, which are used to promote a sense of excitement and uniqueness. No one else is making this stuff (apparently!).
Making the deal seem exclusive in this way can trigger the fear of missing out (FOMO) in the prospect. Opportunities like this don’t come along very often after all, the salesperson just said he hasn’t seen an investment like this in six months and it is a cutting-edge company after all!
Jordan Belfort: “Right now, John, the stock trades over-the-counter at 10 cents a share. And by the way, John, our analysts indicate it could go a heck of a lot higher than that. Your profit on a mere $6,000 investment would be upwards of $60,000!”
He now provides a “very” exciting value proposition. Jordan also indicates what kind of investment would be required to achieve this return, which gives the prospect a sense of what is required of them. There are plenty of emotions being triggered in the prospect at this point, with the most prominent being excitement and greed.
Prospect: “Jesus! That’s my mortgage, man.”
Jordan Belfort: “Exactly. You could pay off your mortgage.”
Prospect: “This stock will pay off my house?”
Jordan confirms the idea that this investment could lead to an incredible outcome. The prospect is now in an extremely excited state.
Jordan Belfort: “John, one thing I can promise you, even in this market, is that I never ask my clients to judge me on my winners. I ask them to judge me on my losers because I have so few. And in the case of Aerotyne, based on every technical factor out there, John, we are looking at a grand slam home run.”
At this point, Jordan adds the final touches. He indicates that he has a track record of success and the proven ability to pick winners.He also confirms that detailed analysis has been done on the product in question. This isn’t just a random product, the research indicates that it is guaranteed to be a success. Note that Jordan is still using the prospect’s name a lot during the call.
So, here is a quick summary of what we learned from this Wolf of Wall Street pitch:
- Don’t rely on a script
A big part of the reason why Jordan is able to deliver a pitch that is so casual and free flowing is that he is not using a script. He only uses the paper in front of him to obtain the prospect’s name and the company’s name. Everything else is memorised, or in this case, made-up. This highlights the importance of doing your research.
- Familiarity is useful
Continually using the prospect’s name and speaking in a vernacular that suits the prospect can increase familiarity and trust. It also increases the chances of a conversational pitch working.
- Appeal to the prospect’s emotions
The pitch is designed to be promote various feelings in the prospect including energy, excitement, exclusivity, greed, and the fear of missing out. This high level emotional energy increases the likelihood of the prospect taking action and making a purchase or investment.
- Demonstrate value
He outlines the value of the penny stock being offered in a very clear way using dollars and cents. This is backed up by analysis of the stock by professionals.
- Quickly explain what the offer is
Jordan wastes no time telling the prospect what the phone call is about. This is particularly important when cold calling.
- Be transparent about what you are asking for
Jordan tells the client exactly how much time the pitch will take and how much of an investment is required. The prospect knows what is expected and the “next steps” are made clear at the end of the call.
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