The Satisfaction Cycle®

Article, Insights

How to help customers buy faster and turn them into Positive Activists 

In the early 1990s, Dr. Joseph Riggio began developing the sales model we know today as The Satisfaction Cycle. He created The Satisfaction Cycle using generative exemplar-modeling of sales professionals at the top of the field in high-ticket sales. 

Learn from the ultra-high-performers

Most sales models are built on looking into the average and a bit beyond. For example, let’s consider a group of 300 sales professionals, and almost all of them, say 294, fit into the standard deviation curve with their skills and performance. Two of these people are so poor, and four are so good that they exceed anything the curve represents. Closest to the top four people, there are 40-50 people who are above average, and any normal study would focus on these and exclude the four from being research subjects because they are so extreme.

Rather than ignoring the extremes, exemplar modeling looks into those extreme ultra-high-performing sales professionals, examining that 0.1% in the standard deviation curve. Qualitative researchers would argue that you cannot use extreme examples because they are too different from those who will use the model. They argue that these extremely but very successful sales professionals will distort the model. But that is exactly the point in exemplar modeling: Dr. Joseph Riggio wanted to distort the model. He wanted to create outcomes and results that would exceed anything that any average sales model could produce. 

To do that, he had to find these examples, these sales professionals who were at the extreme ends of the curve and had an outstanding performance in sales. He went to look at these few exquisite sales professionals when they were selling in real-life situations. He focused on what was common to these few sales professionals, not what was unique. 


Burning desire vs. burning platforms

One of the key unique features that Dr. Joseph Riggio uncovered through exemplar modeling of the ultra-high-performing sales professionals was that, in contrast to most of their colleagues, they would not initiate their interaction with the customers by looking for a burning platform, trying to uncover all the pains and problems that the customers were suffering from. Instead, they were acting more as consultative partners, doing their best to understand the customers’ business and uncover burning desires – what they wanted to do.

Eventually, The Satisfaction Cycle model was further designed and validated using cutting-edge neuroscience and linguistics research on persuasion and influence. 

The Satisfaction Cycle begins with the idea that you are willing to give up the intention that you are in front of the customer to sell anything. The more critical question than selling is how you can help the customers. How can you serve and help them buy what they need to get what they want? Sometimes it means walking away from a potential customer because there is no chance that your offering will help them. 

Sales in a complex business environment require adaptability, flexibility, and creativity. The certainty lies in the fact that all situations will be different, and there is an expectation that suppliers will find better ways to integrate with their customers’ business models. However, many sales models are still based on the zero-sum game of winners and losers. The Satisfaction Cycle® was designed to transcend the idea of winning in the sales environment by developing deep partnerships with the customers – it is for those who want to be and act like a true trusted advisor.

The Satisfaction Cycle is the sales model we use to facilitate the acquisition and development of customers in the Customer Development Strategy model, leading ultimately to loyal and ultra-satisfied customers – those that we call Positive Activists.

The Satisfaction Cycle
The Starting Point Counts!

The most important aspect of the Satisfaction Cycle® starts with the premise of beginning with discovering your customers ‘strengths rather than finding their weaknesses. It turns the problem-solving model of selling upside down and inside out. Where most sales models seek to define the problem and the pain that it represents for the customer, the Satisfaction Cycle® builds positive states with clients as a starting point. 

Beginning from a positive position of strength with the customers leads to a much greater willingness for them to discuss and share what they want as the outcome openly. This is a position beyond what they currently experience as positive, and it bypasses all cognitive resistance and dissonance. So, we begin with discussing the customer’s wins and how they see themselves winning the future. 

After gathering information about how their current business model supports the outcomes they’ve achieved and the future desired outcomes they aspire to, the distinctions between the two positions become apparent. Using this information, you can now partner with clients as a resource that integrates with their existing and future business models. These transitions are natural using the Satisfaction Cycle, without having to deal with objections because the entire process remains based on possibilities, not problems or problem resolution. 

Building the ideal solution flows from the development of full criteria or the possibility of resetting the desired outcome with the client. The key ingredient in the ideal solution leads to an action step that moves the system toward the desired outcome resetting the cycle for another iteration, and building systemic integration. 

The Satisfaction Cycle® consists of 5 steps:        

1. Present State+ (PS+) – The current situation with a focus on what works.

2. Desired State++ (DS++) and Outcome Criteria – The desired situation, including the target criteria.

3. Process and Operating Criteria – What is missing? What will it take to reach the Desired State++ (DS++)? Including criteria for a desirable course of action.

 Solution Experience – The course of specific actions, presented in a way that matches the clinic’s Evidence Strategy.

5. Action!

Using these five steps in the Satisfaction Cycle®, we move effortlessly from eliciting the PS+, to discovering the DS++, and then uncovering the Process that will close the gap between the PS+ and DS++ positions. Then a Solution Experience that provides the closure between the PS+ and the DS++ is presented to lead to the Action that sets everything into motion.