Table of Contents
What is the SPICED Framework?
The SPICED framework is a five-step sales methodology designed to help sales reps identify customer needs and maximize sales opportunities. SPICED stands for Situation, Pain, Impact, Critical Event, and Decision — each step of the framework provides vital information the seller uses to create an effective solution for the prospect.
The diagnostic nature of SPICED makes it a popular framework in solution selling and needs-based selling. It helps sellers systematically organize information to understand their prospects’ backgrounds and needs and better anticipate their objections. And it gets buyers to open up about their whole situation, uncovering risks and implications of not making a change along the way.
To put it simply, SPICED is a framework that gets the prospect to realize the impact they need to make. The seller takes a diagnostic approach, but the prospect (ideally) calls themselves to action.
- SPICED methodology
- SPICED sales framework
- SPICED sales process
Steps in the SPICED Sales Process
The SPICED methodology typically follows the natural flow of the sales cycle. It starts with details and background information about the prospect (which generally happens in the first stage of the pipeline). Through multiple lead qualification and conversion stages, they’ll eventually arrive at a decision.
The five stages between initial contact and a buying decision are required to structure the process and drive efficiency.
Information, conditions, and contextual details about your prospect.
The Situation is a holistic view of the customer’s world as it currently stands. It defines the landscape of the industry, their competitive and market position, the current capabilities of their products or services, and any recent developments that could affect their business.
Situation questions are the first questions on discovery calls. They’re typically neutral, non-leading questions that help uncover the customer’s current situation.
Examples of situational questions include:
- “How big is the sales team in your Houston office?”
- “What CRM platform does your company use today?”
- “I noticed you’re rolling out a new product in a few months. Is that correct?”
By asking these types of questions on preliminary calls, sellers can score leads and determine their likelihood of being a good fit for their solution.
The challenges or risks that led your prospect to the conversation.
Pain points are the issues potential customers face that drive them to seek a new solution. They can be qualitative pain (i.e., emotional issues) like a fear of losing business or frustration with an internal process. Or, they can be quantitative pain (i.e., rational issues) like cash flow management or ongoing slow business.
In the case of outbound leads (from cold calls, DMs, and emails), there’s a good chance the sales rep led the prospect to the conversation. It’s their job to ask more in-depth situational questions that help them unearth the specific problems the customer is facing.
Examples of pain questions include:
- “How do you currently onboard your customers?”
- “How long does it take them to reach first value?”
- “How often are you able to upsell/cross-sell?”
When they listen to the responses to these questions, SDRs look for specific identifiers that indicate a probable need for the product. This could be using a particular legacy product or missing out on huge revenue opportunities with their current process.
How that pain impacts the prospect’s business.
Impact is where the conversation starts to take a personal and emotional turn. This step is where sellers begin to understand the root cause of their prospect’s pain and how it affects the team’s performance or bottom line.
Impact questions are the follow-up questions to Pain responses, both financially and emotionally. Rational impacts generally include reducing costs, growing revenue, or improving the customer experience. Emotional ones include reducing stress or eliminating a source of frustration.
Examples of impact questions include:
- “What does a slow onboarding process mean for your conversion rate?”
- “When was the last time a customer dropped out after signing the dotted line?
- “Do you find yourself too reliant on new customer acquisition for revenue growth?”
Sellers use this step to paint a picture of the customer’s current process and how much better they could be with their product. If they haven’t already, this is where they start to make a case for their solution.
The deadline and implications for improving that impact.
The Critical Event is the sense of urgency that drives prospects to make a timely decision. It’s typically a deadline or benchmark that the customer has set and wants to meet. Deadlines for hitting KPI goals (like a quota), new product launch dates, and meeting compliance regulations are all common Critical Events.
Critical Event questions are designed to uncover the implications of not changing the prospect’s Impact by a certain time. These might be missed investment opportunities, a tanked conversion rate, or the loss of current customers.
Examples of Critical Event questions include:
- “What happens when you can’t onboard new customers in 60 days?”
- “Why is that date important to you?”
- “What are the risks in not hitting that goal?”
It’s important to note that ‘I’ and ‘CE’ won’t always occur chronologically in the SPICED framework. A prospect may already be aware they have a problem, and they might already know about a few solutions available.
In those cases, they will probably mention these things much earlier in the sales cycle (typically, the first time they get on the phone with an SDR). This is rare, but active listening can help sales reps pick up on clues and bring forth Impacts and Critical Events through further questioning.
The people, process, and criteria required to close the deal.
In the Decision stage, sales reps need to know what needs to happen for the customer to close the deal. This includes understanding their specific decision-making process, who has executive power, who the influencers are, and what criteria they need to meet before making a purchase.
Decision-oriented questions help sellers understand the prospect’s familiarity with purchasing a solution like theirs. And they should uncover any objections or hesitations the customer might have.
Examples of Decision questions include:
- “What does your internal vetting process look like for new solutions?”
- “Are there any conversations I should start in parallel, such as Procurement and Legal?”
- “What are the most and least important criteria you’ll evaluate when deciding on a new tool?”
The Impact of SPICED on Revenue
When implemented correctly, structure in the sales process improves efficiency, makes it easier to get new reps up to speed, and helps sellers qualify leads more accurately. The bottom-line result is higher revenue and a more fluid sales motion.
Improves Go-to-Market Motion
Launching a new product requires a tremendous amount of coordination. Product and sales teams can work together to outline key pain points and Critical Events for customers. Sales can then use the SPICED framework to quickly uncover customer needs and create a cohesive sales story.
With SPICED, product teams can also create comprehensive buyer personas that make it easier for sales reps to target the right prospects and sell the right features. When sellers understand product features and benefits, it’s easier to assemble and execute go-to-market strategies that focus on specific target markets.
Consistent Buying Experience
Uniformity is what makes sales systems scalable. Every sales interaction is somewhat unique, but working with many of the same customers generally means that conversations will follow a similar pattern. When sellers struggle to respond accordingly to even basic situations, it comes off as unprofessional and creates unnecessary friction in the buying experience.
SPICED gives reps the necessary structure to uncover customer needs with uniformity and consistency. It also helps prevent personal biases, sales rep assumptions, and miscommunication during sales qualification.
Uniform Operating Model for Revenue
Revenue teams benefit from using SPICED in multiple ways. Sales reps can isolate key customer needs and understand the decision-making process more efficiently, which helps them focus their efforts on deals that are most likely to close. This is especially important for high-value accounts where sales cycles take months (or years).
Forecasting is more predictable since companies using the SPICED framework can sell into target markets with a certain level of consistency. Revenue teams create more reliable sales plans and set realistic revenue targets for the organization.
Sales Team Coaching
When sales managers onboard new reps, the biggest problem is usually the timeline. Although most teams follow the 30-60-90-day onboarding process, the results are often underwhelming.
With SPICED, sales managers can quickly teach their reps to ask the right questions and ensure they follow a logical flow when speaking with customers. Sales onboarding is a lot faster this way. And if it’s a proven methodology top-performing reps use with success, new hires will be confident in its effectiveness.
SPICED also helps sales managers provide more targeted coaching that’s focused on the customer’s needs rather than product features and benefits. This makes it easier to identify issues in reps’ conversations with prospects and suggest improvements.
Teams typically measure sales productivity in terms of speed and outcomes. Quality sales conversations lead to more accurate qualification, faster deal cycles, and better-converting leads.
SPICED helps sales reps ask the right questions and uncover customer needs quickly. This reduces discovery time, allows reps to qualify leads more accurately, and gives them enough information to create a compelling value proposition. As a result, they spend less time in unproductive conversations and zero-in on the deals that matter most to their organizations.
Examples of SPICED in Sales
The SPICED framework is one of the most universally applicable sales methodologies, and it’s incredibly helpful for new reps who don’t know exactly what to ask. This is especially common with complex solutions like enterprise software or SaaS products.
Here are a few examples of how SPICED can be applied in different industries and selling contexts:
Bringing a new product, feature, or price tier to market is a carefully orchestrated process that requires sales reps to articulate the unique features and benefits of their solutions. In the beginning, doing so is a guessing game.
When startups bring new products to market, time is rarely on their side. Using SPICED, product, marketing, and sales teams can develop go-to-market strategies that focus on communicating solutions to customer pain points, finding opportunities for value creation, and targeting specific market segments. Since it’s rarely followed in a linear order and each step can be revisited, SPICED also offers flexibility and room for experimentation in an agile sales process.
For the same reason that SPICED is helpful for GTM sales, it also works wonders when introducing tested solutions to potential customers on an ongoing basis. If anything, marketing teams get better at lead gen over time when sellers use SPICED because of its solution-oriented approach.
Sales teams can use SPICED for lead scoring. Based on a prospect’s situation and pains, they can determine fairly quickly whether or not they’re worth pursuing. Relaying that information to the marketing team means they can target higher-quality leads with their ad creative, copy, and marketing techniques.
Sales Process Optimization
For mature organizations, SPICED can be a great tool to optimize the sales process. It’s especially helpful for customer service and tech support teams that handle customer inquiries on a daily basis. Having an agreed-upon approach allows reps to quickly uncover customer needs and find solutions that fit into existing product offerings.
Since larger companies tend to have more diverse products, sales reps have to operate with versatility and precision. SPICED helps them do that without having to think too much or reinvent the wheel every time they have a conversation with a customer.
Sales and customer success teams use the SPICED framework to collect information during calls, facilitate smooth transitions between teams (e.g., prospecting to sales, sales to customer success), or provide deal summaries in internal forecasting meetings.
Customer success isn’t involved in the initial sales process. They’re focused on retention. They rely heavily on the sales team’s ability to take good notes and uncover the customer’s true situation.
With the SPICED framework, everything is laid out on the table during the conversations and events leading up to the sale. So customer success teams have plenty to go off of when they engage current customers.
Tools to Implement the SPICED Sales Framework
The great thing about the SPICED framework is that it’s a universal sales methodology. Revenue teams of all sizes in numerous industries benefit from the customer-oriented yet agile approach.
Implementing in a way that can scale, however, requires software. It requires each department to work in tandem and share the same data, even if they work using disparate systems. Sales, marketing, and product alignment is key.
Companies that effectively use a SPICED methodology use the following tools:
- Customer relationship management (CRM)
- Configure, price, quote (CPQ)
- Sales automation platforms
- Sales engagement platforms
These tools have to integrate with marketing automation, helpdesk, chatbot, and data management platforms, but those are seen as secondary to the SPICED sales process, which is primarily a function of the sales team.
People Also Ask
What is a sales methodology?
A sales methodology is the overarching structure a sales team uses to engage new leads and move them through the sales funnel. It includes materials (e.g., sales scripts, playbooks, and templates) to guide the process. Although each sale differs from the next, the methodology outlines the high-level steps each prospect will go through on their path from lead to customer.
What is the difference between MEDDPICC and SPICED?
The main difference between MEDDPICC and SPICED is the type of pain points sellers address using either. MEDDPICC primarily focuses on rational pain, such as revenue growth and KPIs. SPICED focuses on emotional and rational problems, so it’s a more adaptable framework.