Way of the Wolf — Straight line selling — Master the art of persuasion, influence, and success — Jordan Belfort

Hannes Kleist
12 min readNov 17, 2021

Buch-Review — Hannes Kleist — 19.05.2020

Oh, that was a fun read. BTW: I loved the movie (hated the guy and everything he stands for). But, I found actually the Leo does not do him justice. Leo makes him likeable. After subscribing to his masterclass, I actually quit after 2 lessons. Unbearable. How he ever sold a single stock, is a mystery to me.

However, the advice he gives in this book is great not just for sales but for life. Everything is a sale. And it’s not the high-pressure sales tactics and sleazy salesmanship you would expect.

He is teaching empathy, build rapport, creating value for the client and building long term relationships.

And the anecdotes are hilarious.

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Cracking the Code for Sales and Influence

Emotional certainty has to do with painting your prospect a picture of the future where they’ve bought your product and can see themselves using the product and feeling good as a result of it.

Onboarding expert extraordinaire Samuel Hulik opened my eyes to that:

You sell the fire flower that makes your client awesome. But the client buys what your product will help them become. That’s what you need to communicate at all points during marketing and sales.

Chapter 1: Inventing the Straight Line

You must take immediate control of the sale. You must engage in massive intelligence gathering, while you simultaneously build massive rapport with your prospect.

I now start with a quick introduction and a small hero story: “We have helped other top-notch[industry type] companies to double their organic daily downloads by rebuilding their onboarding flow, and I think we can do the same for you.”

I then go into the main part — which is not a presentation but rather me asking questions using mirrors and labels to find out as much as I can about the client, their pain points, the buying process and criteria.

I try to keep a low profile. We are not the hero here. We are the guide that helps the hero overcome his problems with a plan to achieve amazing results while avoiding the pitfalls.

The best sales meeting is when I did not have to sell at all. As in negotiations or generally in life: People are not interested in you. They are interested in themselves. Make them feel respected, deeply and honestly understand their problems, and you do not need to “pitch”. As the saying goes: “The most interesting person is one who is interested”.

Chapter 2: The three tens

The prospect must love your product. The prospect must trust and connect with you. The prospect must trust and connect with your company.

I find that hard to separate as I am selling myself. I am all three.

Chapter 3: The First Four Seconds

Three things that you need to establish in those first four seconds of an encounter, if you want to be perceived in just the right way: Sharp as a tack Enthusiastic as hell, An expert in your field.

Alright. Not sure about the “sharp” — but I think I come across enthusiastic and an expert.

Translate features of the service or product into benefits and value for the prospect, while using technical industry lingo that I’ve taken the time to simplify — allowing the prospect to easily grasp what appear to be very complex statements.

Good advice. For instance, I explain that our non-focus on any vertical brings best practices from multiple industries to solve usability issues and thus creating truly outstanding products for the client.

Demonstrating extensive knowledge and understanding of the market, industry, product, prospect, and competitors.

That is really tricky. Both my market (software development agencies) is super fragmented, and we pitch to clients from all kinds of markets. It’s really hard to learn of all those industries…

Get to the point quickly Not waste the prospect’s time. Have a solution to their problem. Be an asset to them over the long-term.

Two takeaways for me:

  1. Instead of long rapport building and then pitching, I turn it around and interview the client as I would a job applicant. That way I learn what he really needs. Because I ask the good questions, I do not need to pitch. The client understands I know my stuff.
  2. I try to find out pain points (apart from being in need of software development) in other areas and regularly provide value: Researching or even just forwarding content, that can help them or connecting them with other people.

Chapter 4: Tonality and Body Language

I’m talking about something called bottled enthusiasm, which sits just below the surface and literally bubbles over as you speak.

That is literally the only thing, that comes naturally to me. Because it’s my company and I personally hired everyone in the team, I cannot wait to start helping the client.

Chapter 5: State Management

The basic premise of NLP anchoring is that human beings have the ability to choose how they feel at a particular moment in time, as opposed to it being chosen for them by what’s going on in their surrounding environment or their personal life.

Is NLP still a thing? I thought this is a pseudo-science. I just checked… https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuro-linguistic_programming

Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is a pseudoscientific approach to communication, personal development, and psychotherapy

So there you have it…

Vast majority of human beings believe that their current emotional state is a result of outside forces that are being exerted on them.

Although his science is a bit off, there is truth to it. When we feel an emotion like anxiety, we interpret bodily functions. I need to find the book again, but I read that if you measure in the millisecond realm you will find that the bodily reaction (i.e. adrenaline shooting into the bloodstream) when you see a saber tooth tiger happens before your brain actually recognizes that there is a danger.

Interestingly, most emotions have a counterpart that has the bodily symptoms. i.e. anxiety shows itself as higher blood pressure, pulse, rate of breathing and a slight feeling of nausea. You would get the same description from somebody who is positively excited before he starts in a sporting event.

Emotions are often how you frame what your body is doing…

Chapter 9: The Art of Prospecting

We call these the four buying archetypes. The first archetype is called buyers in heat. The second buying archetype is called buyers in power. The dreaded lookie-loos.

The fourth type is there by mistake, he says.

It’s really tricky when doing outreach to get to #1 and #2 fast. I do this by asking a lot of questions rather than simple pitching.

Chapter: 10. The Ten Rules of Straight Line Prospecting

Alright. Here it goes…

Rule #1: You are a sifter, not an alchemist. Rule #2: Always ask for permission to ask questions. “John, just a couple of quick questions, so I don’t waste your time.” “John, let me just ask you a couple of quick questions, so I can best serve you.” “John, let me ask you just a couple of quick questions, so I can see exactly what your needs are.” Rule #3: You must always use a script. Rule #4: Go from less invasive questions to more invasive questions. Rule #5: Ask each question using the right tonality. Rule #6: Use the correct body language as the prospect responds. Rule #7: Always follow a logical path. Rule #8: Make mental notes; don’t resolve their pain. You do not want to try to resolve their pain at this point. In fact, if anything, you want to amplify that pain. Rule #9: Always end with a powerful transition. Rule #10: Stay on the Straight Line; don’t go spiraling off to Pluto.

11. The Art and Science of Making World-Class Sales Presentations

First, your script must not be front-loaded. Front-loading is when you disclose all your major benefits right up front. Second, focus on the benefits, not the features. Third, your script must have stopping-off points. Fourth, write in the spoken word, not grammatically correct English. Fifth, your script must flow perfectly. Sixth, your scripts must be honest and ethical. Seventh, remember the overarching equation of energy in, benefits out.

I love #6. ;-)

The most important thing to remember throughout this entire process is that until a definitive agreement gets signed and money changes hands, the deal is not closed, which means you need to keep in touch with the prospect and do whatever you can to keep the Three Tens at the highest level possible. This includes sending your prospect testimonials from other satisfied clients; articles from trade journals, newspapers, and magazines that reinforce the idea that the prospect made the right decision; and occasional emails and regular schmooze calls to make sure that you stay in tight rapport as the process drags on.

Yeah. That is a key takeaway. A hot lead needs to be nurtured with more, not less energy.

In your opening pattern, you’re simply introducing yourself, your company, and explaining the reason for your call, while using tonality and body language to establish yourself as an expert. Be enthusiastic right from the start. Always speak in the familiar. For example, you wouldn’t say, “Hi, is Mr. Jones there?” You would say, “Hi, is John there?” Introduce yourself and your company in the first couple of sentences, and then restate the name of your company a second time within the first couple of sentences.

“John Jones”. Talk about cruel parents ;-)

Use power words, like “dramatically,” “explosive,” “fastest growing,” “most well respected.” Power words go a very long way to capturing someone’s attention and establishing yourself as an expert.

Finally, the sleazy part ;-)

Ask for permission to begin the qualification process. What do you like or dislike about your current supplier? What is your biggest headache with your business?

I feel so uncomfortable with these questions. But they are brilliant. Totally change the dynamic of the calls from a sales pitch to a dialog.

The next pattern is going to be to get their response of “I’m okay.” “If you recall, we met last Thursday night at the Marriott,” or “If you recall, you sent in a postcard a few weeks back,” or “We’ve been reaching out to people in your area …” In short, you are trying to link up this call with the time you first met your prospect, or when they took an action, like filling out a postcard or clicking on a website.

Seems like any explanation is good.

He is a bit shy on the main body, unfortunately.

After the main part, transition to the close:

“Based on everything you said to me, this is a perfect fit for you.”

Now comes the pitch:

The next language pattern should be no more than one or two paragraphs and be focused on a benefit that directly fills the clients need.

Now a bit of social proof:

In addition, if you can ethically link the above pattern to a trustworthy person or institution, like a Warren Buffett or J. P. Morgan, then do it. (Also, check to see if your company knows of any high-profile people who have used your product and liked it.)

Getting into the yes pattern.

After you’re done with the pattern, you should say, “You follow me so far?” or “Make sense?” You can only move forward after the prospect says yes; otherwise you’ll break rapport and enter the death zone.

A bit sleazy sales again…

As you’re transitioning into your close, you should try to create some type of urgency — meaning, why the customer needs to buy now.

Explaining the next steps:

Moving from the main body to the close, we start with a transitional pattern that explains how simple it is to get the buying process started.

And you need an (as the beautiful Pete Dunn would call it) mutual agreed next step:

Then you directly ask for the order, with no beating around the bush.

12. The Art and Science of Looping

How to handle objections…

“Let me think about it”; “Let me call you back”; “Send me some information”; “I’m not liquid right now”; “I have another source [or supplier or broker] I work with”; “It’s a bad time of year [including it’s tax time, it’s summer vacation time, it’s Christmastime, it’s the end of our fiscal year]”; and “I need to speak to someone else [which includes my spouse, my lawyer, my accountant, my business partner, my financial advisor].” All excuses because they do not trust you (yet.)

Now comes the sales script you probably also seen in the movie:

Start your introduction by greeting Bill by his first name, and then quickly reintroduce yourself — stating your first and last name, the name of your company, and its location — and ask Bill how he’s doing today. Remind him that you two spoke a few days or a few weeks ago, and that you emailed him a bit of information on your company. Once he does, then briefly explain to him how the last time you spoke, he asked you to give him a call the next time an extraordinary investment idea came across your desk. Explain how something just came across your desk and that it’s one of the best things you’ve seen in quite some time now, and if he has sixty seconds, you’d like to share the idea with him. Complete your introduction by saying “Got a minute?” Now comes the body of your presentation, adhering to the rules and guidelines laid out in the previous chapter, on script building, and then you’ll close out the front half of the sale by directly asking for the order for the first time. Now, in reality, this is a far bigger investment than you expect your prospect to ultimately make; however, by asking for such a large commitment on the first go‑round, you now have the opportunity to incrementally lower that amount with each new closing attempt — timing the reductions so that, on your final closing attempt, you’re asking your prospect for the firm’s minimum commitment for opening a new account. Response to an initial objection, which is: “I hear what you’re saying, Bill, but let me ask you a question: Does the idea make sense to you? Do you like the idea?”

He shares some ways to get the client to admit that he is not buying because he does not trust you, and then manipulate them into trusting you.

That part is really weak. That was also the part, that I did not find believable in the movie.

The next part is interesting… He tries to get a small commitment to start the relationship.

“If you give me 1 percent of your trust, I’ll earn the other 99 percent.” “Frankly, on such a small sale like this, after I split my commission with the firm and the government, I can’t put puppy chow in my dog’s bowl.” “I’m obviously not getting rich here, but, again, this will serve as a benchmark for future business.”

Loop once, then:

On average, approximately 20 percent of the prospects who hit you with an initial objection will close right here, as a result of one simple loop. I can only imagine how great I’m going to feel when I’m sitting in the clubhouse.

If that does not help:

The answer is, you lower your prospect’s action threshold, right on the spot. In total, there are four ways to do this. The first way is to offer your prospect a money-back guarantee. The second way is to offer your prospect a cooling off or rescission period. The third way is to use certain key phrases that paint a picture that runs counter to the worries and concerns that a typical high–action-threshold prospect ruminates on.

This is something that I saw in the movie. I did not buy it then. I do not buy it now.

“Bill, let me ask you an honest question: what’s the worst that can possibly happen here? I mean, let’s say I’m wrong and the stock actually goes down a few points, and you lose two thousand bucks. Is that gonna put you in the poorhouse?” “No, definitely not,” replies Bill. “Exactly! Of course it won’t. It’s not gonna make you rich, and it’s not gonna make you poor, but what this trade will do is serve as a benchmark for future business. “Since this is our first time working together, why don’t we start off a bit smaller this time. Bill, if you do even half as well as the rest of my clients in this program, the only problem you’re going to have is that you didn’t buy more. Sound fair enough?” And then you shut up and wait for a response.

This is why it works (he says)…

This is why you introduce pain in two spots: first, during the intelligence-gathering phase, you want to identify where your prospect’s pain lies and, if necessary, amplify it to ensure that your prospect listens to your presentation from that perspective; and second, you’re going to reintroduce that pain right now, at the beginning of your third loop, using a language pattern that sounds something like this: going to raise the level of pain by asking your prospect what they think is going to happen with the situation if they fail to take action to fix it. “I get it, Bill. I’ve been around the block a couple of thousand times now, and I know that these things typically don’t resolve themselves unless you take serious action to resolve them. “In fact, let me say this: one of the true beauties here is that …,” focus almost exclusively on the emotional side of the equation — using the technique of future pacing to paint your prospect that all-important pain-free picture of the future, where he can actually see himself using your product and getting the exact benefits he was promised and feeling great as a result of that;

Summary on the call

First four seconds Build and get into massive rapport, both conscious and unconscious Transition to the body of the presentation Ask for the order Deflect and build certainty through the process of looping Lower the action threshold Add on pain Close the deal

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Hannes also shares sales strategy and tutorials for startups on YouTube and at his consultancy’s blog.



Hannes Kleist

MBA, 10 years strategy at ProSiebenSat.1, 5 years app startup (exited), 5 years digital agency, now helping startups with sales fooxes.de