Based on real life salesperson Jordan Belfort’s life, this blockbuster hit, directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo Dicaprio and Jonah hill, earned nearly $400 million in the box office. It was all about Jordan Belfort’s rise to riches through scamming people into purchasing junk stock.
Belfort is portrayed to be a savant of sales, a multifaceted character full of rhetoric, as well as psychology, combined with boundless chutzpah. He takes pleasure in the money that he moves from his clients’ pockets to his own, but he also takes pleasure from the very exercise of power over his victims.
Irrespective of your intense feelings on the movie, I think there is an underlying truth to it, more than the extravagant company parties and rich guys blowing millions of dollars on cars, helicopters and houses. Undoubtedly, a large part of what Jordan and his firm were doing was illegal, but at the heart of it there are lessons every sales team and salesperson should know.
In case you’re worried, don’t bother. These lessons are totally legal and won’t land you behind bars.
Never stop the act of selling
Along with distinguishing a need, Belfort was also incredibly resolute to make the sale, no matter what. He wouldn’t end the conversation or hang up the phone until the deal was done. DiCaprio’s portrayal of Belfort establishes rapport with the customer right away to gain his or her trust. After that, he would then continue talking until he made the sale.
The salesperson needs to realize and understand that there are a lot of ups and downs working in sales but it is important to continue selling. Practice your opening, make it perfect and think about making a connection with the potential customer as soon as possible.
“Sell Me This Pen”
This has now become a standard interview question for candidates applying for a sales job. In the movie, DiCaprio’s Belfort teaches his sales team their first lesson by pulling out a pen and saying, “sell me this pen.” After a few attempts, one character takes the pen and asks Jordan to write his name on a napkin. Jordan doesn’t have anything to write with and has to ask for a pen. Boom. He made the sale.
In the game of making a sale, you first have to recognize a need and you have to create a sense of urgency before you can actually convince someone else your product is the answer. Even if you are sure about the superior quality of your product, it is difficult to make the sale without first revealing a need, as well as the consequences of not making the purchase to the potential buyer.
Inspire your sales team
If you’ve seen the movie, you know the atmosphere and culture at Belfort’s brokerage firm, Stratton Oakmont, was beyond belief. It was almost incredibly ridiculous. However, outside of the spending habits and money-spinning parties, Belfort created a competitive and energized atmosphere. How? He was an exceptional motivator.
Apart from a rigorous routine of two meetings a day, Belfort shared inspirational messages and also offered incentives to top salespersons on a regular basis. Employees wanted to work hard and earn the most money because Belfort set high expectations with the company culture.
As a manager, you could set similar monthly goals, offer prizes to the top seller and motivate your team in your own way.
Training is a must
Any sales manager in her/his right mind knows the importance of training your team well. It is as important as motivating and keeping your sales team happy. Belfort was able to successfully transform uneducated and unqualified people into selling machines because he had a simple and effective sales strategy.
Hire the right people, not essentially the most experienced and then nurture them to ensure they are successful. It may take a little time, but it is a valuable investment in the future success of your company and sales team.
Learn to accept adversity
Despite the heights Belfort and Stratton Oakmont reached, it is important to appreciate that like all entrepreneurs and small business owners, Belfort overcame adversity and started from just about nothing.
He went through a lot of demanding situations after losing his job on Wall Street when his firm crashed. But an ever optimistic Belfort took a job selling meaningless penny stocks. Belfort did not let adversity affect him, in fact, he used his competitive nature and knack for selling to pick up the phone and make it happen. He was determined to be successful and he had a vision.