Over the past month, I have had to take two trips back East to help my parents sell and move out of their house of 25 years. For anyone who has been blessed with this task you have my condolences.  Through all the pain and emotions that these trips created, I found three life/business lessons that I would like to share with you.  Two of the topics will be in subsequent entries but today’s topic is “remember who your customer is and what they are looking for.

My parent’s have been trying to sell their house for over a year.  They have been through several Real Estate Agents who have offered advice on how to make their house more sellable.  It was a frustrating experience for my parents. They were told to take down pictures – check.  They were told to take out furniture – check.  Take down wall paper and paint the walls – check. The list went on and on.  They dutifully tried every suggestion but with no avail.  The effort exhausted them and the house still hadn’t sold.

Finally, the last agent they used talked with my wife and I about how the house still looked like their home.  My wife and I immediately noticed the issue – they were selling their home to someone rather than selling the client’s new home to them.  It was all about perception.  They needed to employ a “pull” strategy rather than a “push” strategy.  I found an opportunity to go help them make a different set of changes, so I went east.

While there, I took down more wallpaper, started adding popular paint colors and palettes to the walls, rearranged furniture, and frankly staged the whole house.  I kept walking through the house thinking I was a young mother of two toddlers and trying very hard to appeal to that customer.  My mother was beside herself.  “You are taking away my pictures and my stuff – it doesn’t even look like my house anymore!”  (Exactly – I thought to myself).

After 5 days of endless long days of working and countless walk-throughs, I let the real estate agent start scheduling new viewings.  I then scrubbed and cleaned the house one last time to a sparkling shine.  It could have not gone better – two showings, two offers…good offers.

What was the difference?  The house no longer looked like grandma’s house; it looked like a house that a young couple would live in.  It looked like the house the new owners wanted to move into.  It was all about client perception of seeing the house they wanted to buy not seeing through the house to the one they want to buy.  The next time you are looking at your products or services, stand in the shoes of your customers.  Do they see something they want to buy or do they have look around the product to see what they really want?