8 Takeaways from the Wolf of Wall Street

8 Takeaways from the Wolf of Wall Street

While the 2014 Oscars best picture award finalist Wolf of Wall Street may not be a totally realistic depiction of the business world, there are valuable sales and management lessons that can be learned from the film once you sift through the ridiculousness of Jordan Belfort.

Through the depiction of the rise and fall of the stockbroker’s career, there are lessons for every salesperson at the heart of Wolf of Wall Street. Although some of Belfort’s actions were absurd, he was a leader with a vision who developed the best out of his employees and created a high standard for success.

Here are eight takeaways to help your sales team win more:

Focus on Training

Belfort didn’t choose to hire the most educated or experienced employees, but training was at the top of his priority list with each new hire. He was able to train somewhat clueless people to sound like knowledgeable stockbrokers. Instead of attempting to do all the work himself, Belfort explained things in a simple manner and ensured employees always knew what he expected of them, and this is a valuable lesson any sales manager can put into action.

With proper training, everyone is on the same page when it comes to the sales strategy and overall company goals. Taking the time to train someone thoroughly is a valuable investment that will eventually contribute to the ultimate success of your sales team.

Enjoy Your Successes

Although the pace of a salesperson’s daily life is extremely fast and at times overwhelmingly busy, it’s crucial to celebrate your achievements. Take some time to bask in the glow of your hard work, and if you are a manager, encourage your team to share their achievements. Though we don’t recommend taking it to the extreme of yacht rides, high-end sports cars, and lavish parties as shown in the movie, some form of acknowledgment for hard-earned accomplishments is needed for a moral that will keep your team striving to accomplish more.

Incentivize Your Team

Throughout Wolf of Wall Street, Belfort recognized achievement in a very public manner. While some don’t appreciate the spotlight, this method proved to be competitive in a positive way and encouraged everyone to push their coworkers further.

With 90% of top performing companies offering recognition and rewards to inspire their sales teams, it is proven that incentives can positively impact your team in several areas:

  1. It keeps things interesting- Sales teams tend to be naturally competitive so addicting incentives only keeps them engaged and working harder at work.
  2. Incentives add energy and excitement- it keeps your team rallied up and the common energy can really create an exciting and hyped up work environment
  3. Keeps everyone focused- Not only is everyone driving towards a common goal, but the team is grinding with their heads down as they want to win the prize.
  4. Increases collaboration- As your sales team begins to win more and more incentives, your team members will easily begin to recognize who’s winning consistently. Though competitive people hate losing, they will see an opportunity to learn “the secret sauce” from others who are clearly doing something right!  

Obviously, not everyone can win, but with everyone striving to be better than those around them, the company as a whole is more likely to reach their potential.

Establish A Need For Your Product

One of the most famous scenes throughout the movie occurs when Belfort asks one of his sales team members to sell him a pen. This has now become a common interview question throughout the country.

The salesperson proceeds to ask Belfort to hand him the pen, then ask him to write. Belfort explains that simply creating supply and demand will sell your products.

While a pen may not be comparable to the product your company sells, it proves the point that customers will only purchase something if they see a need for it and are shown how it will help them and their business.

Cold Calling Is Crucial

Those of you that aren’t still practicing cold calling should be. While some think it is a lost art, it most certainly is not. Jordan Belfort began his career strictly calling because he understood that to create a sale, he needed to pursue his customers and seek out those opportunities.

Cold calling also serves as an opportunity to humanize your brand. While it can be easy to say no to an offer through a screen via email, it is more personalized and authentic when a salesperson picks up the phone and calls you. According to sources, 57% of C-level buyers prefer that salespeople call them, proving it as one of the most effective ways to gain new customers.

Establish Expectations

According to Forbes, roughly one-third of CFOs felt their company’s employees were basically unaware of the firm’s strategic objectives. Expectations can take many different forms but must be established in order to ensure mutual understanding across the company.

In any profession, it’s crucial to establish expectations from day one. When people are aware of personal and company goals, it creates an environment in which everyone is on the same page and helps to avoid miscommunications down the road. Success is built on a foundation of clarity and mutual understanding of company goals.

To take it even further, high expectations can serve as a motivator for your employees. Jordan Belfort pushed his sales team from day one because he knew they were capable of achieving greatness. While your manager may not have the same personality traits portrayed in the film, a similar motivation is needed to reach your team’s full potential.

Build Company Culture

While we don’t suggest the illegal activity and excessiveness of the Stratton Oakmont work gatherings, it does send a message that company culture is important. While the behavior at their events was questionable, Stratton Oakmont was extremely creative about the events they had. The goal was to engage employees in a way that would make them enjoy the work they were doing, their coworkers, and the company as a whole.

A positive culture is a vital aspect of running a business. More than 50% of executives say corporate culture influences productivity, creativity, profitability, firm value, and growth rates. Company culture is how you attract talent and keep it. If employees are happy while working, they are likely to be more productive as well. A strong office culture creates a sense of support and a group effort mentality for any challenges that may arise.

Again, there are a lot of practices from this movie we do not encourage for a work environment. However, deep under the parties, illegal activities and ridiculousness, there are some valuable sales lessons that can be implemented into your companies processes and culture. Now, it’s time to start hitting the phones and making some sales!


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