4. Deadlines

Jeff Cochran


Knowing your own realistic deadline in advance will tell you how much leeway you have before you take an entrenched position. Similarly, understanding the other side’s deadline may give you an edge or allow you to forego a point in order to gain somewhere. Deadlines are pressure points. Know where the pressure points are in order to push or massage them.

Online companies are springing up all over the web that harness the d-word…deadline. By implementing one day only deals, websites like LivingSocial and Groupon have tapped into buyer’s psyche with notions of serendipity and exclusivity. A deadline is a huge driving force for making deals.

3. Interests

Jeff Cochran


Your interests and theirs are the keys to getting past what seem like rock-hard positions. Interests are all about getting beyond what they say they want to what they might really want. In short, they are those things that you need the most, those things that mean the most to your side and, conversely, those that mean the most to the other side. Yours are not the same as theirs. But, if you know both, you may be able to satisfy most or all of your interest and still fulfill some of theirs (e.g. you want a low price. They need cash in a hurry.). Dollars may define positions (prices, salaries, etc.) and noncash value may define interests (setting quickly, service, experience, recognition).

The easiest way to picture negotiation with concern to interest is in marriage. It’s no secret that a lot of negotiating goes on in a marriage. These are seven of marital harmony that will help drill down the notion of interest:

1. Don’t think “me” think “we”.

2. Under every wet towel left on the bathroom floor is a real issue trying to get out.

3. Be prepared for the good times and the bad times. For the better and the worse.

4. Always listen up. Never talk down.

5. Ask him to walk a mile your high heels. Ask her to try it in your wing tips.

6. When angry, kiss.

7. Short term victories can lead to long term pain.

Virtual vs. Live Training

Jeff Cochran


I am often asked whether or not the new Virtual Training technology will eventually eliminate the need for face-to-face training.  I simply ask them:  Did people stop going to church after Guttenberg printed the first bible?  Let’s face it, distance learning started the minute Guttenberg finished with his printing press.  In 1950, my dad learned how to sell encyclopedias by listening to LPs (Long Playing Records for those born after 1980). I still have the ‘box set’ of Tony Robbins’ “Unlimited Power” somewhere in a box in my basement (right next to the Jane Fonda video cassette).  All of these distance learning ‘technologies’ were effective, but never eliminated the face-to-face training experience.  So even with the advent with incredible technology today, I do believe, to paraphrase Mark Twain, “the death of face to face training is greatly exaggerated.”


That being said, virtual training has changed the game in a very significant way.  In the past the choice was typically either you learned in a group in a classroom, or you learned ‘at a distance’ on your own via books, records, etc.  The difference today is that people can learn in groups, but still be at a distance.  Technologies such as Second Life or VirtualU, participants are fully immersed in a setting where they can see and interact with people that are part of their learning group, even though they may be thousands of miles away.  Therefore, the need to be part of a group learning experience is no longer entirely dependant on being in the same room.  That being said, no one will deny that being in the same room has its benefits and will always be part of the landscape.  However, people will learn how to use all the technologies in a unified forum so that people learn asynchronously by watching a video on YouTube or participate in a WebEx, then attend a live session at the corporate offices, and then extend the group learning experience by continuing with classes in a 3D virtual worlds.  The good news is that the face to face training experience will be much more efficient and impactful, as it will only have to focus on the areas of live training that require a live audience, such as best practice sharing and role playing.  Everything else can be handled via the other technologies.  So in the end, face-to-face training will be enhanced (rather than be eliminated) by virtual training technology.

2. Alternatives

Jeff Cochran


Employing alternatives gives you the power of options. Going into a negotiation without options is like going into battle with one weapon. What if the battering ram won’t knock the door down? Did you bring grappling hooks to flight over the walls? If not, you’re not going to get inside. Alternatives make you less dependent on one kind of deal and more open to variations. There’s no take it or leave it when you have alternatives; therefore, there are far fewer impasses. Further, knowing their alternatives may guide you in assessing their leverage.

Case and point: Carmelo Anthony’s recent negotiation with the New York Kicks is a great example of negotiation with options.

1. Precedents

Jeff Cochran


Knowing precedents gives you the power of the past. You can quote or cite, as well as learn from, those events that have already happened, thereby giving legitimacy and credence to your position. Knowing how similar transactions turned out in the past may also guide you in structuring this one. But don’t just focus on a single precedent, such as the one that supports you position. Be familiar with the precedents the other side might use.

Case and point: Cal Ripken’s 1992 contract negotiation. Our precedent was the highest paid player, the Orioles was the highest paid short stop in the game.

Out Prepare to Out Perform

Jeff Cochran


The Seven Prep Steps of the Preparation Planner:

1.      Precedents

2.      Alternatives

3.      Interests

4.      Deadlines

5.      Strengths and Weaknesses

6.      Highest Goal/Walk Away Position

7.      Strategy and Team

The Preparation Checklist or Preparation Planner was created to serve as a tool for people from all walks of life to deal with the pressure of the everyday challenges they face. The inspiration for the eight-step Checklist came from the Checklist that pilots have used for the last 40 years.

Have you ever gotten on a plane and watched the pilots as they prepare for a flight?  Now we all know they know how to fly a plane – yet if you look up front they have their heads in an instruction book (“check, check, check”).  That’s the pilots’ checklist. I ask pilots whether they know how to fly – “want to be sure doing it right”, even when they’re under pressure.

Who could forget the February, 2009 emergency plane landing in the Hudson River? Certainly the pilot, Chesley Sullenberger, and the crew of U.S. Airways flight 1549 were under the ultimate pressure when that flight’s engines went out.  Obviously, Sullenberger’s experience and temperament played a major role in saving the lives of 154 people. He described his emotions as a combination of, “calm on the outside, turmoil inside.” But it is also worth noting that the co-pilot, Jeffrey Skiles and the crew did a run through of the Emergency checklist for just this kind of situation….The Checklist played a major roll in getting them through the extreme pressure of the situation.

A preparation checklist can only help you better achieve your goals, especially in times of serious pressure. Chesley Sullenberger is a hero today because of preparation and planning. The lesson here: Out prepare to out perform.

Virtual Reality

Jeff Cochran


For over 15 years, SNI has been conducting training programs and providing real deal consulting services that have helped our clients generate and save millions of dollars and secure long-lasting partnerships.

While we are undoubtedly proud of these accomplishments, we’re also extremely excited about the next evolution of our company: Virtual Training Partners.

For year, webinars, video conferencing, and other technologies were touted as the models and platforms for the next generation of training.  While they continue to exist and are used in a limited capacity, these technologies have never materialized as viable alternatives platforms for interactive training needs.

Today there is something new on the horizon, and SNI has devoted an extensive amount of time and resources into uncovering its potential.  3D Virtual Training platforms such as Second Life are quickly developing and receiving the real support to finally provide that technological leap to applicable skills training.

While instructor-led trainng will always be the primary platform for providing skill transfer, we are convinced that virtual platforms are going to revolutionize the way training is conducted.  As a result, we created Virtual Training Partners, an entriely separate division of SNI dedicated to virtual training success.  We’re proud to be recognized as experts in this training area.

This immersive, engaging, and fully interactive experience creates a world where the only limit to training delivery is the creativity of the human mind.  In fact, in some ways, this training platform will allow for increased creativity and practice that not even instructor-led training can reach.  Virtual training technology provides organizations with a way to reduce or even eliminate travel expenses and time out of the office, making it a realistic and effective alternative to instructor-led training.

In October, Mark Jankowski, Co-Founder of both SNI and Virtual Training Partners, invites you to join him for a one-hour complimentary open enrollment training event in Second Life, Preparation Skills for Effective Negotiation.  The dates for the program are as follows:

October 6, 2009

October 13, 2009

October 20, 2009

October 27, 2009

Each program will run from 12:30 pm – 1:30 pm EST (9:30 am – 10:30 am PST).  The number of participants for each program is extremely limited, and not everyone will be able to attend due to limitations with computer systems and corporate firewalls.  SNI’s staff will help guide interested parties through a quick process to determine their ability to participate.

If you are interested in being part of these groundbreaking programs, please visit the following link: Virtual Training Program Information.

Pharmaceutical Sales: How to Stand Out

Jeff Cochran


One of the toughest sales jobs in business today is that of the pharmaceutical sales representative. There are so many barriers to the traditional process of selling…limited access, managed care, limited resources and generic drugs in a time when every patient and physician is hyper-sensitive to costs. According to SK&A Associates, a leading provider of healthcare information and research basedin Irvine CA, the number of practices that no longer see reps has increased to 38.5%

Add to that the fact that a pharmaceutical sales rep rarely gets to see the “sale” at the point of the prescribing decision – that moment is rightfully reserved for the examining room – and you can see why the pharma sales job in an increasingly demanding position. It is really an “influencing job” rather than a more tactical selling approach.

A primary care physician (who gives access) sees an average of 35 reps per week and spends less than 90 seconds with each rep on average. What can reasonably be accomplished in 90 seconds in terms of effective selling? Most reps use the time to do a quick detail of the product they are promoting and than try to engage the Doctor for additional time by asking questions about disease states, personal interests and patient feedback on their product. The Doctor usually gives the rep an “auto-response”, in effect telling the rep what they believe the rep wants to hear for the singular purpose of getting the rep to leave their samples and then leave the office.

This equates to a tremendous waste of time for both the rep and the physician.

We suggest that a pharmaceutical rep has to differentiate their approach in order to effectively capture a physician’s attention. We have been working with reps to develop what we call a “Doc Stopper” questioning approach. The rep grabs the attention to the physician by asking a question that defies the “auto-response” and promotes a more open and honest conversation….it does not necessarily add time to the average sales call but garners a deeper, more thoughtful response.

One rep was constantly being told by a physician that any drug in their class would work for patients presenting a particular disease state. Since there are five drugs indicated for that disease state, the rep grabbed their attention by asking “Would you agree that it makes the most sense to spread your prescribing more equally among all five products to create competition and drive down the average sales price?

The Doctor stopped for a moment, considered the question and replied that economically it made sense, but admitted that there were partcular clinical circumstances that affected her decision on which product to write for a specific patient. The Doctor went on to explain her thought process.

By asking the “Doc Stopper” question, the rep was able to move past the usual interaction and learn:

  • How the physican was actually differentiating the five drugs in the class.
  • That the presence of samples had an impact on prescribing decisions in some cases but not others.
  • That the economics of the drugs in the class had limited, if any, impact on the prescribing decision with this physician.

Pretty valuable information from a 90 second interaction, and certainly more useful than the usual message – personal connection – signature routine.

Other Doc Stopper Questions

  • How has the influx of “urgent care” facilities in the area affected your practice?
  • What are your thoughts about the changes in how we market our products?
  • How much will it cost your practice to convert your medical records to electronic files (if it becomes law)?
  • Do you find that your patients are waiting longer to come in for office visits in this economy?
  • What is your biggest business challenge today?
  • What are your thoughts on “boutique” practices?
  • How do you attract new patients to your practice? What differentiates you?

For more information on how this approach and other influencing techniques can help you make the most from every sales call, please call us at 410-662-4764.

Jump Starting Stalled Negotiations

Jeff Cochran


Negotiations deadlock for many reasons. When both sides refuse to budge, it’s time to be creative. Here are some guidelines to get the other side talking again:

  • Start Over. When Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev deadlocked during arms talks, Reagan reached across the table and said, “Hello, Mikhail, my name is Ron, and I think it’s time we talked about the arms race.” This broke the tension and led to meaningful discussions. 
  • Keep a Secret. Some negotiations stall because negotiators want to please third parties (such as bosses). If you suspect this, assure the other person that you’ll keep the conversation’s details confidential. The negotiator won’t worry that something he says will get back to the boss. 
  • Recount interests. Don’t talk about positions – focus on each side’s real needs. Say, for example, “It seems you’re most interested in delivery to meet your customers’ timetable.” If the other party agrees, ask, “What do you think are my main interests?” Highlighting the main interests, rather than side issues, helps you create room for new solutions.

Excerpted from The Power of Nice. Ronald M. Shapiro and Mark A. Jankowski.

The SL Economy and the Worldwide Economy

Jeff Cochran


Very well… thank you very much!

First Quarter results were released today in the Linden Blog. Highlights of the quarter include:

  • 124 Million User Hours, an increase of 42% from the same quarter last year
  • Peak concurrent users of 88,200, an increase of 33% from the same quarter last year
  • 120M in user-to-user transactions, up 65% from the same quarter last year
  • The Islandmarket has stabilized, although overall square meters of resident owned Land has decreased
  • Gross sales on the Xstreet SL marketplace grew 23% over Q4 of 2008 and 72% over the same quarter last year

Growth numbers of ranging from 23% to 75% are impressive for any business in any economic cycle. The fact that Linden is posting these numbers during this economy is extraordinary, though not unexpected. IMHO, the following factors in the corporate training community are adding wind to SL sails:

Travel Budgets: While there are many elements that drive the SL economy, the fact that travel budgets have been slashed, if not completely eliminated, plays into the hands of SL, which allows companies to continue training sessions and meetings without touching their travel budget.

Small Business: Because there are few (if any) established 800 pound guerillas in SL, small businesses are flourishing. Small businesses are suffering in the US because of the credit crunch. In SL, the barriers to entry are low (other than time spent on the learning curve). The low cost of start-ups means that bank financing is unnecessary, and therefore the credit crunch does not impact as many small business in SL

Free Time: Displaced employees are seeing SL as an opportunity to grow their skills without paying tuition or spending hours and hours in a physical classroom. It would be rare for an employee to be commended for spending time in SL while at work. Now that so many people, unfortunately, out of work, they are less hesitant to tune in and turn on.