Listening to customers’ needs was a central theme at the recent spring conference of UPFDA, the United Producers, Formulators and Distributors Association.
“Studies show most people typically listen to about 25 percent of what they hear. We can and must do better than that,” said Eric Maddox, who delivered the keynote presentation at UPFDA’s April 23-24 conference in San Antonio, Texas.
Listening is Maddox’s wheelhouse. Serving the U.S. Army and Defense Intelligence Agency for two decades, Maddox has conducted more than 2,700 prisoner interrogations. Maddox, author of Mission: Black List #1, played a key role in obtaining information leading to the 2003 capture of Saddam Hussein. Maddox broke down listening distractions into six increasingly problematic levels:
- Random thoughts (e.g., what I had for breakfast, what I want for lunch, etc.).
- Personal news (e.g., career, family, health, finances, etc.).
- Unfamiliar terms (i.e., acronyms, words and phrases).
- Biases, both known/admitted and unknown, that each of us carries.
- Our personal agenda heading into each conversation.
- Most problematic, thinking about what we want to say next instead of listening closely.
“Most other interrogators got prisoners to break and share intel 4 percent of the time, whereas I was able to accomplish this 65 percent of the time by shutting out distractions, listening closely and asking the right follow-up questions,” Maddox said.
Today Maddox coaches organizations on the art of listening, questioning, information gathering and negotiating.
“All organizations can and should significantly heighten their listening skills to improve communications and relations with customers and employees,” Maddox said. “When we regularly listen at a high level, avoid distractions, and seek and gain empathy and trust, the world is drawn to us.”
PMPs’ purchasing preferences
In line with listening to customers’ needs, Pest Management Professional (PMP) shared intel from its 2019 Purchasing Survey with the about 75 professionals who attended UPFDA’s spring conference. Just a few of the study’s key findings included:
- Most pest management professionals (PMPs) said it’s important the products they purchase have their effectiveness verified by peers and third-party research.
- Four-fifths increased their pest control chemical budgets in 2019, with nearly one-quarter bumping budgets 11 percent or more.
- Saving time is PMPs’ No. 1 need.
- Most PMPs said they are willing to pay more for pest control solutions that are fast-acting and long-lasting.
- PMPs said they buy most from distributors who possess a deep knowledge of the products they sell and the manufacturers they represent.
1. UPFDA President Scott Riley of MGK brought in his older brother Brett, a seventh-degree black belt, to entertain meeting attendees. Brett’s West Haven Academy of Karate, located in a suburb of San Antonio, demonstrated Tang Soo Do, a Korean martial art promoting harmony of mind, body and spirit.
2. Attendees at UPFDA’s spring conference watch as students from the local West Haven Academy of Karate show off their skills. The demonstration was the entertainment during the final night’s reception.
3. Master Brett Riley and and his son, Marcus, a third-degree black belt who is currently a grand champion in both the forms and weapons divisions.
4. Chris Gorecki, Rollins’ group vice president of operational support, and president-elect of the National Pest Management Association, said the pest control industry is monitoring more than 700 proposed bills from the 2019 legislative session.
5. UPFDA Treasurer Dr. Cisse Spragins, owner of Rockwell Labs and a 2018 PMP Hall of Famer, left, thanked retiring Valera Jessee for her
31 years of service as the association’s executive director. Read more: Jessee stepping down from UPFDA
6. With Jessee stepping down, the organization tapped Andrea and Kristin Coron — who help manage the Virginia Pest Management Association, Virginia Wildlife Damage Management Association, National Wildlife Control Operators Association, and Pi Chi Omega — to help manage UPFDA.
7. AMVAC sponsored speaker David Crow, seated, founder of DC Legislative and Regulatory Services and a lobbyist for RISE (Responsible Industry for a Sound Environment). AMVAC’s Jeff Alvis, standing, chats with Crow, who grew up on a Navajo Indian reservation, as Crow signs copies of his new book, The Pale-Faced Lie.
8. Crow told UPFDA meeting attendees that Wall Street pundits give President Donald Trump a 70 percent chance of being re-elected in 2020: “We have a very strong economy, perhaps the strongest since World War II, and when the economy is strong, most of the time the incumbent wins.”
9.UPFDA President Scott Riley of MGK discussed the myriad benefits of UPFDA membership: “We are an organization ‘at the ready,’ protecting and growing professional pest management.”