How to sell retail using “SPICES and SIMAC” techniques

A customer centric approach when it comes to selling retail means putting yourself in your customers shoes, understanding their thought process and behaviours, and providing factual information of your offering that aligns with the customers deepest desires and needs. If you start each customer interaction with this intent, you will be able to fully understand your customer and their needs, overcome objections and build

Here we discuss two techniques in selling; SPICES; an acronym to better understanding your customers needs and behaviour, and SIMAC; a systematic way of presenting a pitch.

A customer’s “spices” are hidden interests that can be difficult to realize in the initial customer interaction as they are not necessarily the primary interest or reason a customer came to you looking for a solution. To better understand your customer, think of what “spices” your customer may have during the initial conversation with them.

S-P-I-C-E-S example: They have the need for…

  • S – Security: Trusting and knowing that the product or treatment recommended will work
  • P – Pride: Recognition from peers, at big event or for an occasion
  • I  – Innovation: Desire to try new ingredients, use the latest technologies or for having the latest innovations on the market – This could encompass, packaging, texture, application and formulas etc.
  • C – Comfort: Streamlined processes, an easy to use routine, easy to use product
  • E – Economy: Cost is a concern. They want value added products or services
  • S – Sympathy: Care / safety for the environment, Think packaging, ingredients impact etc.


To do this you want to start by asking open-ended questions, then delve in more, narrowing down with more direct questions until you fully understand all the spices of your customer. Make sure to reiterate your customers responses so as to not miss anything and ensure that you are aligned with a common understanding of what they want. Fully rooting the customers hidden interests using the spices method will allow you to avoid objections further into your pitch and provide solutions that are aligned to their needs. It will give you well-rounded understanding of what your customers needs are; what they came to you for (their primary interest) as well as other hidden interests (their spices).

Next, you can use the SIMAC approach to present your pitch and guide your conversation to close the sale. The SIMAC approach has five steps:

  • S – Selection of needs (spices): Ask questions to better understand the patient and their needs
  • I – Idea: Present the product or service: value-based selling, cross selling, upselling
  • M – Mechanism: How it works, how to use, benefits over competition. Leverage storytelling.
  • A – Advantage: How it will achieve the customers needs (S of SIMAC)
  • C – Close: Conclude pitch, suggest and define clear, easy next steps for customer


Once you have discouvered the S in SIMAC through using the SPICES method above, you can present your idea / solution to the customer. The idea you present should reflect the answers to the questions you asked your customer, it should address their primary interest for why they came to you for a solution and your highlight the customers hidden interests that were discouvered.

The mechanism is the “how, what, where and when” of your idea. In this stage of your pitch, you will explain how a product works, what it is, where to apply, how much to use, when to use it etc. It’s an opportunity to tell stories of your own experience or a customer’s, to be factual stating study results or showing before and after pictures. To help with compliance of using a product you can share tips and tricks that you personally use which helps simplify this in the customers mind and allows them to imagine themselves using the product when they get back home. Take this time to demo a product on the customer skin so they get a sensorial experience and understanding of what to expect.

The selection of needs, idea and mechanism steps lead you smoothly into discussing the advantages of how your idea will achieve the customers needs (their spices). They should circle back to your customers primary needs, be clearly explained in a manner that the customer understands and hits home to what they expressed in their initial conversation with you where you determined their spices. You can use the same words or terminology they used and be simple and direct. This helps to create a link in the customers mind to their expressed interests, and it will feel familiar and aligned with what they want.

The Close step is the last step of the SIMAC approach. It is your final solution or recommendation and is an opportunity to highlight offers and/or promotions that may address hidden needs such as cost or innovation. Here you can cross sell, link sell or offer value-based selling of your services and products.

Using a customer centric approach with techniques such as SIMAC and SPICES will help you develop and maintain a strong customer relationship to you and your business. After all, it is the way you start and finish an interaction that creates a lasting memory of the value you bring to the relationship.

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