Way of the Wolf: Review, Context, and Approach

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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Is Jordan Belfort’s book The Way of the Wolf worth the read? Does Belfort’s Straight Line method work?

The Wolf of Wall Street’s source material, Way of the Wolf, was a book written by Jordan Belfort which combines his personal stories as a salesman with practical sales advice. This book had a very mixed reception both due to Belfort’s sales advice and his personal, criminal background.

Keep reading for a Way of the Wolf review.

Way of the Wolf by Jordan Belfort

Our Way of the Wolf review starts with a background of Belfort’s book. Way of the Wolf explains sales trainer Jordan Belfort’s Straight Line method of selling, which is designed to move a prospect from doubt to certainty about buying. He argues that to close a sale, the seller must create absolute certainty in the prospect’s mind (10 on a 1-10 scale) about three things: the product, salesperson, and company or brand. The book offers techniques for creating these certainties and closing virtually every qualified prospect. 

About the Author

Belfort is a motivational speaker and sales trainer, a former stockbroker, and a felon. He pleaded guilty in 1999 to securities fraud and money laundering in connection with operating a stock scheme that defrauded investors of over $200 million. Belfort served 22 months of a four-year prison term, and he was ordered to repay over $110 million to victims; as of 2018, the government said he still owed $97 million.

He wrote two memoirs, The Wolf of Wall Street, published in 2007, and Catching the Wolf of Wall Street in 2009. Both books have been published in more than 40 countries and are international bestsellers. The first, The Wolf of Wall Street, was turned into a Scorcese movie of the same name in 2013, which depicted Belfort’s wild behavior (he crashed a helicopter and sank a yacht), drug use, and free spending. The memoirs and movie helped Belfort launch his post-prison career as a speaker and sales trainer. Since the publication of Way of the Wolf, Belfort has taught its system in workshops and online. Besides training and motivational speaking, he also does business consulting.

Connect with Jordan Belfort

The Book’s Publication

Way of the Wolf, published by Simon and Schuster in 2017, is a condensed version of Belfort’s training courses in the Straight Line System. The book explains the sales methodology Belfort pioneered at his company Stratton Oakmont before getting into legal trouble. In the book, Belfort attributes his downfall to succumbing to greed and temptation because his Straight Line system was so hugely successful at generating wealth. He writes in the prologue that he subsequently eliminated the pressure tactics and refocused his system on ethical persuasion. He also refined and improved his sales method.

Intellectual Context

The Straight Line system, as Belfort describes it in the book, differs from popular sales methodologies, such as The Challenger Sale and SPIN Selling, in several ways:

  1. It prioritizes the seller’s interest in closing expeditiously over the customer’s interest in ensuring the best solution. While it does mention meeting customer needs, most of the book focuses on techniques for moving the customer to a sale.
  2. The Straight Line method, originally designed for telesales, takes a one-method-fits-all-sales approach. Belfort argues that all sales are the same—your objective is to move the customer from Point A to Point B—therefore his approach is universal. However, B2B sales may differ from B2C sales in size, complexity, number of stakeholders, and length of the sales cycle. So, methods like Challenger and SPIN Selling tailor their approach and solutions to the customer.
  3. Compared to other sales methods, the Straight Line system is simple and straightforward.

The last chapter of this guide compares Straight Line to six popular sales methods in more detail.

Critical Reception

Because the book is based on Belfort’s life, sales method, and success, it’s hard to separate reactions to the book from reactions to the author. Based on online reviews, some people are put off by Belfort’s criminal past, and they feel he’s still profiting from it to sell books and training programs. However, others contend he’s put his past misdeeds behind him and deserves respect for his success. 

Regarding the specifics of the Straight Line System, many users write that the method works; they increased their success by using it. Belfort’s website carries an endorsement from speaker and leadership expert John C. Maxwell, author of The 5 Levels of Leadership and The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership.

In contrast, others say the method relies too much on pressure tactics to be effective in today’s world, or it’s useful only in B2C (business-to-consumer) sales, but not B2B (business-to-business) sales, which are large and complex, and which involve multiple stakeholders. Further, some contend that the system amounts to common sales advice useful only for people with no experience in sales.

Commentary on the Book’s Approach

Belfort says the Straight Line method will shorten sales cycles, dramatically increase closes, and lead to referrals and long-term customer relationships—all while bringing the seller success and wealth.  

He begins by explaining his conceptual framework for selling—the straight line along which the seller moves the client from doubt to certainty. After the high-level introduction to his system, Belfort spends most of the book filling in details and explaining his techniques—tone, body language, questioning, creating a script, and “looping”—for moving the customer to a sale. This organization is logical because it’s helpful to have an overall picture of the system in order to understand later nuances as well as why and how to use specific sales techniques.

Belfort departs from describing his system in Chapters 5-6 with a digression, which some readers found disconcerting, on establishing the right mindset as a salesperson through visualization techniques. 

The final chapters show how the system works in practice, with Belfort’s techniques interwoven into a fictional sales dialogue. 

Way of the Wolf: Review, Context, and Approach

———End of Preview———

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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