By Dave Kahle

How to separate yourself from the competition

This is Sales Question and Answer #60 from guest poster Dave Kahle, author and leading sales educator.
Q. A customer (a contractor) has given me and one of my competitors five minutes to present our respective products to him. I know all the features and benefits of the product, but I don’t want to be like everyone else and give him what he’s heard before. At the same time, I want to impress him and get the order. Do you have any ideas that will help make my presentation different, while still highlighting the product’s benefits?

A. Yep, I do. I am reminded of one of the presentations I witnessed in our one-on-one training program. This is a program where myself and one other trainer take six sales people and work with them extensively and intensely from 8 AM till 5 PM every day for a week. They basically role play different aspects of the sales process, we video tape them, and then we critique them. They then do it again, but better.

On Thursday afternoon, we were practicing “making a presentation” — a 20 minute role-play. One of the sales people felt he had to mention every feature of the product, and droned on and on for over 45 minutes. The person playing the role of the customer actually fell asleep, and the sales person never even noticed!


Trust me, your customer doesn’t care about every possible feature. What he does care about is which of those might be important to him.

So, I hope that you have already spent some time with him finding out what is important to this particular customer. If not, see if you can do so. Over and over again, your competitive advantage comes from your knowledge of the customer – not from your knowledge of the product.

If you can gain some insight into this customer’s needs, interests and hot buttons, you can build your presentation around them. So, once again, scheduling this time with him and gaining that inside information is the highest priority, most important step you can take.

Now, it may be that you already have that information. If so, good. If not, and you cannot get that time with the customer, then you are going to have to work on assumptions you make about these kinds of customers. That is never the ideal situation, but sometimes it is unavoidable.

Stop and think, then, about what would be important in this product for your customer’s customer. The people for whom your contractor is building – what do they want in a product like this?

Make a list, and then rank them from highest priority to lowest priority. Since you only have five minutes, eliminate all but the top three or four items.

Now do the same thing for your customer. What do contractors like him want in a product like this? Go through the same exercise – make a list, rank them in priority, and then eliminate the lowest priority items.

Don’t worry about not mentioning every thing this product has to offer. If the customer was interested in the entire list, he would have provided you 60 minutes instead of five.

In the presentation, begin by first talking about your customer’s customer. Talk about what he/she wants to see in a product like this. Then mention the few benefits that you have selected for them. Then, move on to talk about the customer. What customers like him typically want in a product like this. Show how your product provides those benefits.

Your strategy is to present the most important features and benefits of the product, and to do so through the perspective of the customer’s needs and wants.

If you can do that, you’ll separate yourself and your product from the competition and clearly and powerfully communicate to the customer. And that’s the best you can do under the circumstances.

Good luck!

Copyright MMX by Dave Kahle.
All Rights Reserved.

About the author:

Dave Kahle is a successful entrepreneur who, for over 25 years, has served as an internationally-recognized authority in sales and sales systems. His twelve books have been translated into eight languages and are available in at least 20 countries. His focus now is to share the wisdom and insights he has gained with people who want to grow their businesses, enrich their careers, and live a more fulfilled life. He has presented in 47 states and 10 countries. In addition, he is a chapter president for Truth@Work Christian Business Roundtables, and facilitates both local and virtual executive meetings. He and Coleen split their time between Sarasota, Florida and Grand Rapids, Michigan. Visit his blog here.