A Sit-down with John Buelow

Jeff Cochran


We had a chance to sit down with our CLO, John Buelow, to discuss new developments in SNI’s training delivery methods. Additionally, John gave us an inside look at the customization process for SNI programs.

What are you currently working on?

There are three main things are going on right now. First, I have been repurposing all of our negotiations content to e-Learning and virtual platforms. We are trying to meet the needs of organizations with smaller budgets by offering alternatives to the traditional, more expensive classroom-based training. Second, I have been developing content along with Mark Jankowski to develop our influencing course. We are doing research and field observation in the areas of pharmaceuticals and medical devices to give them the psychology behind the negotiation such as: Why do the things that we teach really work in the field? And thirdly, I am in charge of customizing and producing material and delivering programs for a wide variety of our clients. So, our traditional customized negotiations programs are all part of my responsibility to deliver.

How do you go about customizing a program?

Typically, we engage with a client very early in the sales process to let them know that we do not sell a standard program. We are immersed in their business so that when we teach negotiations, we teach it in a language and a format that uses examples that are very familiar to the audience. This allows us to accelerate the learning curve. Once we explain to our client that this is our process, typically I will interview critical stakeholders on the executive team, and then I interview job performers. In many cases, we become embedded in the organization. We observe them and take all of that information that we see and we make recommendations on how the content needs to be customized in order to have maximum impact. By the time we complete an engagement we often know our clients’ businesses so well that we find ourselves providing consulting/advice way beyond the scope of our programs – an indication of a true partnership.

Are you seeing any changing trends with the companies you are working with?

Certainly in the pharmaceutical business the ever increasing rules and regulations are producing new challenges in our field. Also, everyone is much more budget conscious than they were 5 years ago due in large part to the global economy. In addition, I have noticed audiences are much more engaged. Whether it is sales people or negotiators, people are looking for an edge to help them maintain their margins and to close more deals.

 How do you feel about e-learning or virtual platforms, especially in light of the success you’ve had delivering the programs in the classroom?

We believe that the skills we teach in our negotiation programs can be greatly enhanced with the study of strategic questioning tactics, the psychology of influence, and by offering a wide range of reinforcement options to maximize the transfer of learning to the job. That’s one of the main reasons why we are embarking to the e-learning and virtual learning paths. We are trying to teach the foundational skills in the classroom and then offer a variety of delivering channels for our reinforcement and advance skills.

Congress: Learn to Negotiate

Jeff Cochran


In a recent article he wrote for the Baltimore Sun, SNI Chairman, Ron Shapiro, examines the negotiation and deal-making aspects of the Congressional debt ceiling negotiations. To read about how the basic principals of Ron’s best selling book, The Power of NICE, could benefit congress in their negotiations, please click here.

Sitting Down with Jeff Cochran – Teaching Negotiations

Jeff Cochran


We had some fun asking one of our SNI professionals, Jeff Cochran, a master facilitator, some questions. From teaching negotiations abroad to how to survive living with four teenagers, Jeff certainly covers it all.

 1.      Where have you been recently?

 Last month, I was in London delivering training and consulting for General Reinsurance, but I have spent the bulk of my time this month in Florida working with a few different clients in the health care industry delivering negotiation skill building sessions.

 2.      Do you do anything differently when training abroad?

 I speak with an accent. No, it is a common misperception that negotiations have to be tailored to individual cultures, styles, and genders. While those items are important, I think that the concepts that we teach are applicable in every instance. So we’re certainly aware of the cultures in which we teach and of nuances that might change our approach subtlety, however our core tenants are going to be viable regardless of where and to whom we teach.

3.      How do you determine how to customize your programs?

 That’s interesting. That again varies depending on the customer. It has been as straight forward as telephone interviews. Yet, we sometimes do ride-alongs so that we can experience the same challenges that our participants face. In one instance, it was as in-depth as attending a cadaver lab and conducting spine surgery on a cadaver and an anterior hip replacement on another cadaver just so I would understand better what sales reps are confronted with on a daily basis.

4.      You teach negotiation skills professionally. Do you ever use it in your personal life?

 Yeah right now with my own children ages 13 and 14 and we’ve brought over my nieces from Nepal to study in the US ages 15 and 16. You can imagine having a house full of teenagers, consistently there’s opportunities to use the conflict resolution skills that are part of our negotiation training, especially in my house with my wife, two children, and two nieces. We have all three girls living in one bedroom so there are constant issues over space, clothes, hair bands, all that kind of stuff.

 One of the things that has been interesting in having the Nepali girls come live with us is how quickly people adjust and adapt to their new surroundings. Things that would’ve been seen as luxuries in Nepal are suddenly must-haves. You can imagine the correlation with negotiations. When people go into a deal, it’s very important to remember the things we really need versus the things we really want and making a distinction between the two.

5.      What celebrity would be a great SNI facilitator?

 An excellent facilitator would be a combination of Alex Trebek and Kim Kardashian. Alex Trebek because he always seems to have all of the answers. Kim Kardashian since there’s obviously an entertainment element involved in our sessions and I can’t think of many people who would be better to look at for eight hours. So, if we could combine those two personalities, we’d have a pretty good one.

Jeff Cochran at work.

Virtual Role-Playing Takes Center Stage

Jeff Cochran


SNI Co-Founder, Mark Jankowski, wrote an article that was recently published in Training Magazine online regarding four reasons role plays in virtual worlds may be equally or more effective than role plays in the real world. To learn how virtual world technologies can improve training and lead to less goofing off, improved feedback, increased realism, and dynamic scenarios, please follow the attached link to Mark’s article.

Click here to read Mark’s article.