The Three Tens: How to Close Every Sale

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 are the Three Tens? How can they help you close more sales?

The Three Tens from Way of the Wolf are the product, the trust in yourself, and the trust in your company. The goal of the three tens is to move the customers’ level of certainty throughout the sale so that by the end, they buy. 

Learn how to close every sale using the Three Tens from Way of the Wolf.

How Belfort Created the Three Tens

According to Jordan Belfort, every prospect for a sale is going to be somewhere between absolutely uncertain and absolutely certain about your product, you, and your company. The goal of the three tens is to move the customers’ level of certainty throughout the sale so that by the end, they buy. 

Jordan Belfort hit on this strategy at Stratton Oakmont. After selling penny stocks to the middle class, he realized that he could make a lot of money selling five-dollar stocks to rich people. Belfort entirely changed the strategy of his firm (which at that point had only 12 employees) to focus on selling to the rich. 

The first commission that Belfort’s team got from selling these stocks to the rich was by Danny Porush, played by Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street, who made $72,000 off of it—this was over 100 times more than average for a penny stock trade. This made Belfort sure that they needed to sell only to rich people. But after four weeks the team hadn’t closed a single other trade—they weren’t equipped to sell to rich investors. 

He decided to hold an emergency training session in Stratton’s boardroom to focus on how to close more sales to the rich.

What Are the Three Tens?

What he realized out of the blue during this session that changed their fortunes was that every sale is the same. To close more sales, no matter the situation, the seller has to focus on three elements. These are called the three tens, because you rate certainty on a scale of 1 to 10. If a prospect is at a 10, then he is absolutely certain. If he’s at a 1, he is absolutely uncertain. Try to get your prospect to a 10. That’s how to close every sale.

The First Ten Is the Product

  • The first ten states that your prospect has to be certain that he loves whatever it is that you are selling. He has to be all the way on the right of the scale, saying something along the lines of, “Your product fits literally all of my needs, and it’s a great value.” 
  • If your prospect is at the left of the scale, on the other hand, they will say, “Your product is awful and overpriced.” If your prospect hates your product, it will be hard to change their mind. 
  • If your prospect is at a 5, she’s not sure about the product. Think of her as someone who wants to be influenced. Using the Straight Line System, you can move her closer to a 10—at a 5, her feelings are not at all set in stone yet. 
  • The first ten also states that if your prospect is below a 5, there’s almost no way to close them in that moment. You have to try to get their score up. This is because humans will only buy stuff that they think will help them or make their lives happier or better. The important word is “think” because even bad decision makers think that all the decisions they are making will make their life better. 
  • But even if your prospect is at a 10 with the product, it’s not at all certain that they will buy the product. This brings us to the second of the three tens.

The Second Ten Is You and the Trust you Provide

  • If the prospect thinks you’re completely likable and also have their best interests in mind, they’ll be at a 10. 
  • If they think you’re unlikable, inexperienced, and out only for yourself, they’ll be at a 1. 
  • If you’re reasonably trustworthy but you said or did something that makes them not like you, or they didn’t like you off the bat for some reason, or they like you but feel you might not have their best interests at heart, they’ll fall somewhere in the middle. 
  • Even if you are close to or at the top of the scale on both of the first two of the three tens, the prospect won’t necessarily buy from you. You need the third ten. 

The Third Ten Is Connection With and Trust of Your Company

  • No matter how much the prospect likes you and your product, if they have a bad feeling about your company, they won’t buy from you. This is why it’s easier to sell to existing customers, because they already have a positive relationship with the company, so you only need to work on the first two points. 
  • If your prospect has a good feeling about your company going into the sale, they’re also likely to have a good feeling about you and your product. They’ll be more naturally trusting because they’ve heard or know good things about your brand. It works the same way the other way around too—if they don’t like your company, they’re much less likely to like you and your product. 

No matter what, prospects are somewhere on these scales, because they all have some kind of experience or preconceived notion of what it is that you’re selling, who you are, and what your company is like. Everyone has opinions. The three tens are set up to move these numbers closer to the right side of the scale.

Learning how to close every sale is easier said than done. But if you follow these tips from Way of the Wolf then you’re sure to close more sales than ever before.

The Three Tens: How to Close Every Sale

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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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