The Straight Line Persuasion System: Explained

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Way of the Wolf" by Jordan Belfort. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What is The Straight Line Persuasion System from Jordan Belfort’s Way of the Wolf? How did Belfort develop the straight line system?

The Straight Line Persuasion System can be used to sell products that benefit both the seller and the buyer. It was originally used in a nefarious way before Belfort turned it into a successful money-maker and a force for good.

Read on to learn more about the Straight Line Persuasion System.

The History of the Straight Line Persuasion System

Jordan Belfort is famous mostly for his copious drug use and philandering, as depicted in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. But behind all of that flash is a sales technique that propelled him to success and still does. It’s called the Straight Line Persuasion System, and it can be used to sell products that benefit both the seller and the buyer.

Even though selling comes innately to him, Belfort believes, based on his experience, that he can turn anyone, even those not gifted with his talents, into a world-class salesperson very quickly by implementing the straight line system. He created the straight line system after Black Monday in the Spring of 1988 and started teaching mostly working-class young men and women to be exceptional closers. He was able to create wealth at such a fast clip that the brokers at the firm didn’t learn any sort of respect or restraint, and at that point, excess in all forms reigned. 

The Straight Line Persuasion System, due to its power, destroyed Belfort and his firm, Stratton Oakmont. He says he deserved to be completely wiped out because he had misused his gift for sales and the Straight Line System, which could have been a force for good, allowing anyone from any background to be successful. Instead, he used it to live out his adolescent fantasies of wealth and drug use, and he encouraged his employees to follow suit. 

But the straight line system itself was successful, so Belfort brought it back across all kinds of industries—real estate, medicine, auto, law—and saw results even better than at Stratton Oakmont. He purged the Straight Line Persuasion System of its high-pressure tactics and made it more elegant, and he consulted with experts in areas like neuro-linguistic programming and content creation to review it all. After using the Straight Line Persuasion System nefariously, Belfort has turned it into a successful money-maker and a force for good.

What Is the Straight Line System?

Think of a sale as one straight line from open, on the left, to close, on the right. You’re moving across the line from left to right as efficiently as possible.

At the same time, prospects will be trying to move you off the line, either because they’re trying to get you to stop pitching them or because their mind is wandering. Some casual conversation is alright and may be necessary to build rapport and close the sale, but you don’t want to spin too far off the line. At that point, it’s really hard to get back on. 

There are three basic principles of moving efficiently from your open to your close: 

  • Take control of the sale right away.
  • Build rapport, and use that rapport to gather intelligence.
  • Transition quickly and smoothly to a presentation

Why Learn the System?

It’s useful to learn these sales techniques even if “sales” is not your industry because everyone has to sell in life. Consider applying for a job, trying to find a date, or convincing some friends to travel to see you. These are all sales. The techniques in The Way of the Wolf are “ethical persuasion” techniques: ways to frame yourself, your life, or any product in a way that looks attractive. They don’t change anything about your life or a product you’re selling, but they do help persuade people to look at these things in a different light. That is the power of the Straight Line Persuasion System.

The Straight Line Persuasion System: Explained

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Jordan Belfort's "Way of the Wolf" at Shortform .

Here's what you'll find in our full Way of the Wolf summary :

  • How to sell like Jordan Belfort, the Wolf of Wall Street
  • The 4 steps of the Straight Line selling method
  • The 3 types of certainty you have to create to make a successful sale

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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