The Straight Line Selling System: The Good, The Bad and The (REALLY) Ugly
I’ve been hearing a good amount of buzz about The Wolf of Wall Street movie. Since I love Scorsese films and find DiCaprio fairly entertaining, I’ve been planning on getting around to seeing it; however, I’ve also heard that it’s 3 hours long and I honestly have a really, really hard time sitting still for that long. Because my wife and I have 2 kids, getting away for that long is a major undertaking. Planning ahead (I’m not really a great planner in my home life), getting a baby-sitter, etc. tends to require some pretty extensive engineering, so I’ll likely wait until it comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray.
Then, I got a call from a friend of mine who works in business development at an SEO firm Denver. He and I speak from time to time about sales, persuasion as well as what’s happening in SEO. This time, the call was to give me a recommendation for writing a blog post around The Straight Line Selling System. He told me it’s currently trending and because we’re in the corporate sales training business, it would be good to try and capture some traffic. Great idea, so here we are.
At any rate, I started digging around about the Straight Line Selling System and Straight Line Persuasion and came across Jordan Belfort. First of all, the whole concept of boiler rooms, manipulative selling, etc. is funny to me in a really twisted way. The reason I say that is that it’s so ludicrous to me that these tactics are still in play today. It is indeed the stuff of movies.
I personally loathe the actual practice of these tactics, but find it amusing when I get cold calls from New York stock-pitching salespeople. It breaks up my day. When I tell these people I’m not interested, that I get what they’re doing and that I’m in the sales training business, I usually hear, “so…what’d you think of my pitch?” A “pitch” is what happens between a pitcher and a catcher, but that’s another story.
At any rate, as far as Jordan Belfort himself is concerned, I really feel like I’ve seen various iterations of his type several times over the years. Anthony Robbins, James Ray (of sweat lodge death notoriety) and other Internet Marketing “guru’s” I’ve seen “pitch” products from the platform geared towards making me “rich beyond my wildest dreams” came to mind as I watched Jordan Belfort in several YouTube videos. That said, based on my (relatively limited) exposure to the Straight Line Selling System, here are my thoughts.
- This guy has charisma, and that’ll carry you a long way when selling intellectual property to people, especially entrepreneurial information marketers and salespeople. This guy takes me back to the days 10+ years ago when I went to Internet Marketing “super conferences” looking for direct marketing nuggets.
- Belfort has clearly been there, done that, at least from the standpoint of making tons of money (as well as being sent to Federal Prison for bilking investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars).
- In one video I saw of him at an Internet Marketing conference, he also speaks to the concept of the inner game of success. I’m a firm believer in the ongoing personal development mindset, The Power of Positive Thinking, Napoleon Hill’s stuff, etc., so was glad to hear this guy speak to the idea that success starts with positive beliefs, mindset, expectations, etc. That’s at least positive.
- Whether you agree with his methods or not, he makes some sound points about the psychology behind why people buy and how they make decisions.
- I had a difficult time actually finding specific information about his Straight Line Selling System approach itself. There’s a lot of promotional hype by Belfort around it about what it can do for the salesperson, sales team, and sales leader, but very little about the system itself. This actually isn’t surprising as he appears to be promoting a self-study course. I know it’s about getting your prospect to love your company, your product and you; however, it appears that those are the basic goals of the system.
- Also – I really don’t like the thought that selling in today’s marketplace is something you do “TO” someone. Instead (and call me idealistic), I truly believe that today’s sales environment is about collaborating with prospects to recommend solutions that can help them reach their business goals.
The (REALLY) Ugly
- Where to begin? This guy went to Federal Prison for 22 months. ‘Nuff said.
- As a preface to one of the videos I found in which he goes into the Straight Line Selling System itself, he talks about how this system can be used to manipulate people, which based on my quick research, he has extensive experience both in teaching and in doing (see point above). Immediately after making that point, though, he beseeches the viewer to use the methods only according the the highest ethical standards. Maybe he learned something from his prison stint? It’s possible but doubtful. Who knows, though.
- I already said this, but the Straight Line Selling System is something that you do “TO” someone. I thoroughly disagree with such an approach. Sales process needs to be customer-focused and non-manipulative in nature.