Turn features into benefits

March 1, 1999
Neil Baum

Neil Baum, M.D., is a speaker and consultant to the pharmaceutical industry. He can be reached at www.neilbaum.com.

Pharmaceutical Representative

Incorporate the phrase 'which means' into details.

Features and benefits are what every pharmaceutical sales rep learns to stress when talking to a physician. This is what Sales Training 101 emphasizes as a method of differentiating one product from another.

What is also necessary, however, is translation of the feature into a benefit that can be understood by the physician.

Let me give a few examples of features without benefits cited by pharmaceutical sales reps:


•Â "This drug provides a new delivery system that utilizes a precise laser-driven hole in the tablet."


•Â "This medication is the first proton pump inhibitor."


•Â "This unique treatment is a uroselective alpha blocker."

To use these features in describing a product is to make the assumption that the doctor has a high level of understanding of the medicine's pharmacology or novel delivery system. In reality, however, the pharmaceutical sales rep who has just returned from his or her pre-launch meeting knows far more about the medication or delivery system than the doctor. To assume that the detailed information provided by a pharmaceutical manufacturer is common knowledge to the entire medical profession is a quantum leap.

It is easy to fall into this trap. Many excellent pharmaceutical sales reps forget that they are on the inside looking out.

Translate features

How can you avoid making statements that describe features without explaining benefits? The best advice is to subtly add the words "which means" to the end of every statement you make about a feature. By doing so, you will continually translate all of the special features of your product into meaningful, desirable benefits.

Let me cite a few examples of feature explanations that pharmaceutical sales reps have translated into more useful and meaningful benefits:


•Â "This medication contains a small laser-drilled hole with an osmotic pump that allows the slow release of the active ingredient as the table courses through the gastrointestinal tract, which means that the drug is slowly released into the gastrointestinal tract, provides a constant blood level and thus avoids the peaks and troughs of an immediate-release drug."


•Â "This is the first once-a-day proton pump inhibitor, which means there is a marked suppression of acid production by the stomach. As a result, your ulcer patients will experience the immediate cessation of acid secretion into the stomach and immediate pain relief."


•Â "This is the first uroselective alpha-blocker, which means a decrease in the stimulation of the alpha-receptors in the lower urinary tract. As a result, patients don't experience the side effects of the alpha-blockers affecting circulation.

Practice using "which means" in your presentations to physicians. By translating unfamiliar features into language that a physician understands, you will tune into his or her favorite talk radio station: WIIFM, also known as "What's In It For Me?"

By using "which means," the physician will hear you. Which means that you will leave his or her office with the greater likelihood that he or she understands the features that make your product unique or superior to your competitor's. Which means he or she will be more likely to write prescriptions for your product!

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