Back in June of this year, Glenn demonstrated a TRAPS conversation between a script customer on Spiriva and a pharmacist (click here to watch previous example).

This month Glenn picks up the TRAPS conversation demonstration between a pharmacist and a customer who has come into the pharmacy with a cold.





TEAM MEMBER: How can I help you? (Open question)
CUSTOMER: “I’ve got the flu”

Now S P I N it…..

Use situation questions to confirm the diagnosis or circumstances.

Start with an open question eg:

TEAM MEMBER: “What symptoms do you have?”
CUSTOMER: “I’ve got a blocked nose and a headache”

Follow with a closed question(s) to help confirm the diagnosis eg:

TEAM MEMBER: “Do you have any other symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, runny nose or fever?”

CUSTOMER: “No fever, just a sore throat with a headache and my nose is blocked”

TEAM MEMBER: “Did the symptoms start suddenly?”

CUSTOMER: “No they gradually started over a couple of days”

TEAM MEMBER: “How long have you been feeling like this?”

CUSTOMER: “For about 2 days now”

As there is no fever or other symptoms and the symptoms began gradually, we can assume that the customer has a cold, not the flu. We have confirmed the diagnosis.
Now we need to ask more questions to learn about the customer’s circumstances. This is a good time to ask the compulsory S2/S3 questions such as:


TEAM MEMBER: “Are you taking any other medicines?


TEAM MEMBER: “Do you have any medical conditions?”


TEAM MEMBER: “What have you tried so far?”

CUSTOMER: “Just Panadol”

TEAM MEMBER: “Did the Panadol help?”

CUSTOMER: “A little bit but not really”

etc… (all of the other compulsory questions go here)


We have been asking a lot of questions up until this point. At no time do we wish our customer to feel as though we are just firing a series of questions at them (there is nothing worse!).


To avoid such a situation, we need to offer something back to the customer. By offering something back ie. a “pearl of wisdom”, the conversation becomes less one-sided and we have the opportunity to build trust with the customer.

A pearl of wisdom means teaching the Cx something they did not know rather than just confirming what they already know. For example:


TEAM MEMBER: “From what you’ve described, it sounds like you have a cold rather than the flu. The flu usually comes on very suddenly with a high fever and often a person’s whole body aches”

Now we have decided on the diagnosis, it’s time to use TRAPS method (Treat, Relieve, Alleviate, Prevent, Support)


“Treat” is about either:

1.     Recommending a treatment for the condition or

2.     Finding out if the current medication is undertreating the condition (if the Cx is  already taking a medication)


We know that there is no “cure” (ie. no treatment) for a cold and that the closest thing to treatment is zinc (it is proven to shorten the duration of a cold). The only other product which can actually treat this condition (specifically the sore throat) is betadine gargle as it is antiviral.


This gives us the opportunity to share another pearl of wisdom with our customer. For example we could say:


TEAM MEMBER: “Although there is no cure for a cold, there are two things that can actually help treat the cold and get rid of it, rather than just relieve the symptoms. The best thing to do is take some zinc and use some iodine throat gargle. Zinc has been proven to shorten the time you are sick and the gargle actually kills the virus which causes the sore throat.”

Since we have recommended zinc and betadine gargle as the treatments, we need to FAB them (describe their features, advantages and benefits) to the customer as follows:


Ethical Nutrients Zinc Fix Powder:

Feature: “This is a concentrated high dose of zinc powder”

Advantage: “Taking this dose in powder form means it will work quickly”

Benefits: (Think about the benefits for the Cx at work, rest and play) Eg: “so you will feel better much sooner”


Amcal Brand Sore Throat Gargle

Feature: This gargle contains iodine

Advantage: Which is antiviral so it will kill the virus in your throat

Benefits: Your sore throat will improve quickly – after just a few gargles


Relieve (the symptoms)

It is tempting to jump straight to recommending a product to relieve the symptoms. However, before we recommend products or give advice we need to ask some more questions so that our recommendations will be more meaningful to the customer.


We will use PIN questions to find out how the symptoms are affecting the Cx at work, rest and play.

We will find out what PROBLEMS the symptoms are causing and create an IMPLICATION and NEED PAY-OFF. Eg:


TEAM MEMBER: “You’ve told me you have a headache, sore throat and blocked nose – how is that affecting you at work or with sleeping at night?”

CUSTOMER: “I feel rotten. I can’t concentrate at work, I’ve had to take time off and my blocked nose is keeping me awake at night because I can’t breathe properly” (The Cx has now told us the IMPLICATION or the negative impact the cold is having on their daily life)

Now the customer has told us about the effect of their symptoms on their daily living (ie. the IMPLICATION), we can provide them with a NEED PAY-OFF which will be hard to refuse!

For example:

TEAM MEMBER: “If could show you something that will unblock your nose so you can sleep better and also help you feel better during the day so you can concentrate at work, would that be of interest to you?”

CUSTOMER: “Yes, that sounds like what I need thanks”

TEAM MEMBER: “Here are the Amcal Cold and Flu tablets in a day and night formulation.”


Now we need to FAB this product as we did earlier with the zinc and iodine gargle for treating the condition. (HINT: Make sure your FABs align with the problems the customer has told us about) eg:


Feature: This contains both non-drowsy daytime and drowsy night time tablets

Advantage: The daytime tablets will unblock your nose and help your sore throat without making you sleepy. The night time tablets will do the same but they also have an extra ingredient to help you get a good sleep

Benefit: You’ll feel relief within half an hour so you can concentrate at work and getting some sleep will  speed up your recovery and you won’t feel so rotten at work.


Alleviate (the side effects of existing or new medication)

We have recommended Zinc, iodine gargle and Amcal Day/Night Cold and Flu tablets. Here is how we turn “Alleviate” into a conversation:


TEAM MEMBER: “It’s very important to take the zinc after food so it’s less likely to upset your stomach. With the cold and flu tablets, have you taken these before and did they cause any drowsiness?” IMPLICATION QUESTION = “How did that impact your lifestyle?”

CUSTOMER: “Yes, Well the drowsiness made it a bit hard to concentrate in the morning”

TEAM MEMBER: “I suggest you only take the night time tablets at night as they will make you drowsy. These tablets can sometimes cause a bit of a dry mouth so keeping hydrated is really important. These tablets also contain paracetamol so it’s important not to take any extra paracetamol. Also, I just need to check that you are not allergic to iodine as this gargle does contain iodine.”


Prevent (the condition)

Start with either an open or closed question such as:

TEAM MEMBER: “What are you doing about prevention?”

CUSTOMER: “Nothing really”

We can add another pearl of wisdom here. Eg:

TEAM MEMBER: “There are a few things that can make somebody more likely to catch a cold. For example, stress can compromise the immune system.” Now we need to ask some situation questions about stress. Eg:

TEAM MEMBER: “Are you feeling stressed or run-down lately?”

CUSTOMER: “Yes. I have been under a lot of pressure at work so I suppose I am a bit stressed.”

The customer has just told you about a PROBLEM AND ITS IMPLICATION so we must follow this with a NEED PAYOFF… (as we did for the Amcal Day/Night tablets)
We now say something like:

TEAM MEMBER: “If I could show you something to help with your stress and help prevent you from getting sick again, would that be of interest to you?”

CUSTOMER: “Yes that sounds great, thanks!”

We will recommend Ethical Nutrients ?? Stress Relief Tablets….


TEAM MEMBER: “This product is a great combination of B Vitamins for stress”


Now FAB it:

Feature: It has the right amounts of vitamin B1 and B6

Advantage: These vitamins will support your body in times of stress

Benefit: So you won’t be as prone to getting another cold


It’s best to take these with food as well (just like the zinc) and take them in the morning every day.


But wait – there’s more! Hand sanitiser is a “must” for prevention of colds so we had better let the customer know about this as well, right? Here is an opportunity to provide another pearl of wisdom such as:


TEAM MEMBER: “The other thing that can really help prevent you from catching colds is to use hand sanitiser regularly, especially if you are out in public or around other people who are unwell”


Now FAB it:

Feature: This is a pocket sized bottle

Advantage: You can keep it in your pocket or handbag

Benefit: So you can have it handy no matter where you are



After we have adequately addressed Treat, Relieve, Alleviate and Prevent; whatever advice is still left-over comes in under “support”. This is the time when we start with words like:


TEAM MEMBER: “By the way….regular exercise and a balanced diet will also help keep your immune system functioning well. I will email you some information from our kiosk about colds and other things you can do and take.”