5 Sales Lessons from Jordan Belfort

Published on Aug 11 2020

After I was done watching the Wolf of Wall Street, I was a little perplexed. How did Jordan Belfort manage to convince so many of his credulous clients into taking his offers? How he could manage to fool so many people for such a long time. He must be a hell of a salesman to pull something like this off!

He was a man full of presentation skills. He showed how appearance reflects your reputation and work ethic. If you do not qualify to fit the role, you can dress for it, to ‘look’ qualified.

It’s all about presentation. However, the sad truth is that it is a materialistic world and one can’t sell stocks while looking like a used car salesman. 

If a nice pair of shoes is what it takes to get your foot in the door, then you must purchase those shoes.

Jordan Belfort’s life of avarice has plenty of takeaways. He was a pertinacious salesman who would not take “no” for an answer and always managed to successfully convince his credulous clients or potential clients with his usual blarney to invest their money in doomed stocks.

Belfort walked away with huge commissions whereas his clients lost millions of dollars.  In a 1991 issue of Forbes magazine, staff writer Roula Khalaf called him a twisted Robin Hood who takes from the rich and gives to himself and his merry band of brokers.

He was later indicted for securities fraud and money laundering and sentenced to 22 months in prison. He came out with a reformed man, working as a self-proclaimed business consultant. Belfort has lots of valuable experience to impart on sales and marketing.


Sales Lessons from Belfort

Right from the beginning of his career as a stockbroker to the recent one as a motivator and business consultant, there is one thing Belfort displayed profoundly- his innate ability to sell. Be it an idea, a stock, or himself, he could sell them all.

Despite his rapacious nature, there are some lessons I learned from him, some very useful ones in sales!

These sales lessons will help in developing selling and management strategies. From his selling and management techniques, there is so much to learn and it may help in bringing an effective change to your organisation.

Lesson number one: Identify Needs

In sales career one needs to have the appetite for recognizing a need and once you find that out boom! Just take that as an opportunity for making the sale. In the movie, we could see a part of the most interviewed question “sell me this pen”.

However, it is just a metaphor for asking “show me your sales skills.” In the movie, there is a scene where Jordan asks this question to his friends whom he was trying to recruit into his company.

After some failed attempts, one friend took the pen from Jordan and then asked him to write his name on a napkin. He didn’t have any pen and that’s how that friend made the sale. This is the takeaway from the scene.

As a salesperson, we need to first identify the needs and create a sense of urgency to make a sale. It is a good salesman’s skill to create a sense of urgency so that he can convince the client that the product he is selling is the answer.

It is the human mind that without realizing the need we do not purchase so it is difficult for the salesperson to make the sale to a potential buyer without exposing a need.  Once a need is established, selling becomes very easy.


Lesson number two: Never stop trying

The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”
This quote by Jordan Belfort says it all. Do not accept and get depressed over thinking that you have not met your target, rather keep trying.

You might have read in a lot of blogs or have heard many stories of successful persons and their failures. So, failure has till now been the most influential device that delivers success. You won’t be hungry if you haven’t eaten for several days.

Failure makes one more hungry for a better approach and leads you towards success. Belfort’s first business was selling meat and seafood.

He miserably failed there but now here we are taking sales lessons from him. So, you may fail but stopping is no solution. Do not take no as an answer.

In his sales business as well, whenever Belfort could sense a need, he would jump to make a sale.

He would try and try and try harder until the person on the phone was convinced.  Although pushing too much is not always a good idea, nonetheless, it is essential to do so in sales. It is important to convince people and continue selling.

Lesson number three: Motivating your sales team

Anyone would be amazed by how Belfort motivated his team. Yes, it was beyond ridiculous and you must not take that approach!

We need to create a competitive and highly energized atmosphere and offer incentives to the top salesman.

He used to share inspirational messages and also offered incentives to top salespersons regularly.

He used to reward the right talents, the deserving ones. This way he kept the employees more and more engaged as they wanted to work hard to achieve targets and earn as much money as they could.

Offering incentives to the one who tried the hardest is the best approach, as the number of ‘no’s increase the chances of a yes.

Belfort used to set high standards of expectations and created an atmosphere that motivated his sales team to give their best.

Moreover, we have learned that if you are working as a team then even as an individual salesperson we must always the others in the team.

Belfort was a salesperson who believed in a competitive and energized atmosphere. He was a brilliant motivator.

Lesson number four: Training is important

Belfort very well anticipated the importance of training his team. He used to do that by following an effective selling model.

He believed that hiring traditional salespeople will not do good in the competitive market if they are directly thrown out to the sales floor after hiring.

Belfort managed to turn his good for nothing friends into suave salesmen. He used a smart technique to do so.

He practiced opportunity qualification, knew his vision, and planned call scripts and campaigns to capture their interest and made it difficult for them to say “no”.

He hired the right people- who had the desire and the hunger to become the best salesman or saleswoman and then nurtured them to ensure they became the same.

Lesson number five: Overcome adversity

Jordan Belfort had a knack for overcoming adversity. Belfort came from nothing and overcame whatever difficulties he faced.

His initial meat selling company failed, he lost his first job as a stockbroker but continued his relentless pursuit of hitting it big.

He didn’t get discouraged easily. After coming out of prison, he was always and will always be looked at with disdain and hate.

He didn’t let that get to him and now works as a motivational speaker and teaches people his persuasion techniques to help other salesmen and business owners.


One can always take some positives out of a negative situation. From the life of Belfort, I took out these five valuable sales lessons which will be beneficial to us all.

Jordan Belfort’s idea of managing sales environment taught us how it is essential for a successful sales manager to be passionate about his trade, know the leading skills and motivate their team in every possible aspect, establish an effective training program, and understand the formula of identifying and approaching a prospect.

Apart from that, we learned how we must always love what we do otherwise there is no potential growth.

How in the movie we could see that when he was fired from his first job on following the 1987 stock market crash, Belfort was desperately in need of a job.

He took the opportunity of a major demotion of selling penny stocks. However, it was still in his line of work and that job allowed him to continue his passion for sales and negotiating skills, which turned out to be successfully founding his firm, Stratton Oakmont.

Final Thought

Jordan Belfort’s life is thus filled with all sales skills and stories that influence us for great sales skills and maintain a wonderful sales environment.

Jordan’s life is full of contrast. On one hand, one may find that he is a criminal and a fraud, on the other hand, once cannot ignore the fact that he was very good at convincing people to do his bidding.

He has even started coaching people in sales. We all can remove the negative aspect from his life and learn some essential things from his life.

If you like this article, do share it with someone who might find it useful. If you like to read articles related to sales and FMCG, do visit our blog here.

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Article English Sales/Marketing
Author Info:
Gourab Mukherjee

A writer by passion, a consultant by profession. Loves to write about the latest technology, FMCG, and Sales techniques. In his free time, loves to read books and desires to travel the world

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