Why Are You Better? Build Preference Value To Beat The Competition


By Robert A. Potter



What is your Preference Value? That is, what makes you unique and better than your competition? Can you quickly articulate what you do, how it is different, why that difference is important, and can you prove it? If you can't, then clients will be less inclined to see you, value your services, choose you over competition, pay you what you are worth or commit to supporting your solution. The objective of this article is to make it easier for clients to choose you.

Charting Your Preference Value

I use a tool called a Preference Value Chart to help my clients flesh out and then articulate their preference value. By way of example, I worked with a commercial real estate company whose only offices were in New York City. This company was having difficulty winning competitive business against large national concerns.


When asked to describe their services, they gave a standard pitch that looked like this on a Preference Value Chart:


Preference Value Chart







(How is it different?)




("So what?" Why is it important to this client?)





(What evidence do you have to prove it?)


Committed to good service


Good market knowledge


Full service expertise


NYC offices






These are all excellent attributes but hardly unique. All the same, this firm’s existing clients loved them, so I asked what they had done that set them apart from the national companies. Here is how we built their preference value chart:

How are you  different?(Differentiator)

"Most of the nationals pitch the business with the experienced brokers, but the work is actually done by junior people who work on transactions throughout the Northeast. Our transactions are handled by professionals with at least 20 years of experience in New York City. Our clients never have to deal with rookies."

So what? (Preference Value)

"Most New York properties are sold or leased to other New Yorkers. We know who is active, what they are looking for and what they can pay. We can get it done faster, with fewer mistakes and fewer surprises."

So what? (Preference Value) What do fewer mistakes and surprises mean to the client?

"Slow execution exposes them to market risks and ties up their funds. Our clients receive faster and smoother execution from us, which translates into less market risk and more liquidity."

Can you prove it?(Proof)

They were able to demonstrate faster sales and offered strong references. They branded their execution capabilities "No Rookies Execution" to emphasize their unique transaction experience. Now take a look at their Preference Value Chart:

Preference Value Chart










Preference Value

("So what?")





"No Rookies Execution" Team








Deal only touched by someone with at least 20 years of NYC experience








More liquidity


Comparative references


120 day





Now, this real estate company presented an image of a more reliable execution along these lines:


"Our 'No Rookies Execution' means that you and potential investors will only deal with a professional who has had at least 20 years of experience in New York City. That means higher quality representation, faster execution, fewer mistakes and more liquidity. That also means no more hand holding junior staff through the process. On average, our dispositions close within 120 days of initial marketing. Here are the résumés of our No Rookies team."


Try building your own Preference Value Chart. A clear preference message makes it easier for clients to choose you over your competition.




Robert A. Potter is the author of Winning in the Invisible Market: AGuide to Selling Professional Services in Turbulent Times.He is also the managing principal of RA Potter Advisors, a marketing and sales strategy consulting practice for professional service providers. You can reach him at or (415) 459-4888 or view his web site at To purchase go to Amazon: