Business Masterclass with Jacques Janse - video transcript
Jacques Janse - After Listening to Karl, I can just say, you know, I'm glad to be here in Brisbane tonight with you, flying in from Parkinson.
I know that I'm the last speaker here tonight, but I'd like to talk to you about some real practical things around business. I feel quite belittled in the presence of some of the gentlemen here, but I'm also very proud to be part of Brisbane and the digital economy. Just a few things, three things I'll talk to you tonight, just a small and little introduction into GroundProbe, then a few notes on setting your business up for success and how to grow internationally.
Now if you look at the picture on the left, this is in the public media: on 10 April this year there was a landslide, or we call it the slope stability failure in the mining environment and because open cut mines have slopes and they all have issues with stability. This hole is actually three times the height or sorry, the depth, of the Empire State Building and it's in excess of half a million tonnes of soil that fell from that wall.
On the right hand side you see a picture there of one of the products as part of the service that we provide. It's called a slope stability radar. It was invented in the late '90s in the University of Queensland and GroundProbe commercialised that technology in 2003. We just passed our 10 year anniversary and recently we built the 200th slope radar that left for South Africa for a mine over there.
What we do with the slope stability radar is we measure small movement on the wall as far as three-and-a-half kilometres away to the precision of the movement of 0.1 millimetres. So what we do is we do it this way: we have a camera on our radar that takes a photo. That's actually about 36 photos all stitched together of a mine wall. Then we send a pencil radar beam in this sort of a raster scan over the wall. Then we build what we call a defamation image or a digital radar image at the bottom here. You'll see a scale over there that shows the amount of movement that we pick up.
So what we do is we scan it once, we scan it again, we compare the latest scan with the last scan and show you the movement. As these things happen, you'll see a sort of a heat map develops and from that we can tell the miners that there's a certain portion of their wall that's moving at a certain rate. Over there, some graphs, sorry for being a bit boring and scientific, but what we're looking for, is we're looking for the change in the movement or what we call the change of acceleration along that curve.
So you see at some point it changed and so what we do is we look for the rate of change and once the rate of change is suddenly very different, we set off alarms in the mine offices or SMSs or emails and with our digital economy, sometimes - this mine that I showed you is in Salt Lake City in Utah, we actually knew that information here in Brisbane while the mine was asleep, okay? So we monitor all those sort of things.
We have, at the moment, 160 radars worldwide with these customers of ours, servicing the globe through seven offices, very soon to open that office in Canada. There's an office there in Brisbane where our head office is. We're in Newmarket Road in Windsor. After starting off a very small company with a small office in Milton, moving to West End, eventually leasing from three different landlords, going on to building our purpose-built facility and manufacturing facility there in Windsor. We also have an office in Perth, one in Balikpapan in Indonesia, one there in Jo'burg in South Africa, that's sort of where I'm from, Santiago in Chile, Belo Horizonte in Brazil and up there in Tucson in Arizona and soon in Canada. So that's just a little bit about us.
So setting your business up for success, I thought I'd keep it quite simple tonight to just say, well I'll give you only two pieces of advice. The one is to differentiate yourself; be different. The other one is don’t be afraid to sell. We all are sales people. I'll demonstrate that to you later.
So you know, if you're not different just be default, you're actually a me too, so what do you sell or what do you provide? I'm just a me too, just me too. So if you sell me too sort of solutions and products, the problem you often have is that price becomes the focal point. So if you drive home tonight, you want to put fuel in the car and you don't perceive the difference from the fuel you're filling up here from the BP I saw outside versus the Shell on the other end, it's just all about price. If you're buy milk and you don’t see the difference, well then it becomes - everything becomes about price.
So how do you differentiate? Because maybe you may be in a commodity perceived environment, but Karl gave us some very good ideas and actually demonstrated to us how he left money on the table and could have made so much more if he just realised that he had differentiated himself. Alright, so how do you differentiate? There's three ways. You can be a technology leader. You can be excellent in operations. Or you can be intimate with your customers. I'll demonstrate some of these to you.
When GroundProbe started off in 2003, we really changed the marketplace. We brought a piece of technology that was never there before; we changed the face of mining, we changed the face of geotechnical engineers and their job and the way they work. We changed the risk profile of mines and of mine managers. We changed the mining industry and people bought from us because there was no competitor. We were the only one. We were the only technology on the market. So even if they disliked some of the other things we do, they didn't have a choice; they had to deal with us. We differentiated by our technology.
But then as we developed, in around 2005-2006 we had our competitor arising out of the South African market, coming out of the radar environment, military radar environment and they saw this opportunity and thought, well mining can work for us. So they jumped into slope stability mining radar and copied everything we do. We actually took them to court for a few things and they took a few steps back, but nevertheless they continued.
Up to about 2008, the market looked at the two technologies and said to themselves, so radar's just a radar's just a radar, which one shall I buy? You know, maybe this looks like the milk, it's just the same. So yes, we had a few differentiators in the technology, but they were so complex that only the doctors could explain this, the radar doctors I mean. Only they could explain this. The real customer in the mining industry there didn't understand it. So we had to figure out what we needed to do.
So we said, alright, if then that's the case, how do we differentiate ourselves now? So we said to ourselves, let's focus on our customer, let's be intimate with our customers, let's understand their needs, figure out what they want. Maybe they just want this discussion Karl is talking about, you know, they're bored, they just want a discussion, who will they talk to today? Then they should say, those guys in Brisbane are nice, let me talk to them.
As things developed in the market, this theory says: choose one; choose one to lead with but then at least for the other two, be as good as your next competitor. Alright, so we were great with customer intimacy and in November of next year, we will introduce three new products to your stable, which will make us the technology leader once again. But we're not there yet, so at the moment we're focusing on operational excellence, we are focusing on up time, we are focusing on when something breaks, that we are there within hours. We keep $4 million of spares all over the world to service our customers so that when they look at the radar data, it's always just there.
But what does it mean? It means that whoever looks at us as the competitor needs to at least be as intimate with their customers as we are with ours, otherwise they lag behind. So you could ask yourself, how could I be different? I'm giving you three ways to be different. Think about your business; think about how you can be different.
Then I say, well you know, embrace sales excellence. I'm not scared to say that I'm a salesman, I'm also an electronic engineer by trade, but I'm also a salesman and when people ask me, I often say I'm a salesman and I see how they run. But don't be scared, because we all sell. We all sell every day. I often say to the people around me, who of you are married? Who of you have a partner and if you dare say yes, I'll say, well at least you've sold yourself once, okay?
So don't be scared of sales, embrace it and it starts by - sales excellence starts by understanding your customer's need. What I mean here is our customers buy from us and sometimes we don't understand why. Our customers buy from our competitors and then we also don't understand why. It's because we didn't meet their need and as a sales professional, I can tell you I am quite disheartened when I go to buy a motor vehicle or when I go and buy some whitegoods and I give the salesman an opportunity to sell to me and he doesn't. Some of us just want to be sold to, you know?
When I go and buy - look at the nice flat red car, you know, the guy doesn't even ask me why I want it or how am I going to use it or whether I have five children. He just says, when can you buy? Alright, so we just sometimes want to be sold to, so my advice to you is understand your customer. If you uncover their true need, you have a great chance of being successful.
Also something else I'd like to share with you. I subscribe to a sales fraternity that uses the sort of word and terminology; they talk about the customers' win result. A result is a business sort of outcome, a win is something very personal. So the philosophy says when we talk about sales excellence, that if you understand your customer's need, you meet their business result and their person win, guess what, you will be successful. Let me demonstrate some of this.
A business result is things that have an outcome of being quicker, smarter, faster, easier, cheaper, okay? That's sort of what people want, all the time. But the personal win is things that are hidden, but you know what, we all actually buy on our personal win. I have a fellow at the office there, he bought himself a very nice gleaming German car, beautiful thing. So he drove in with the car and you know, we saw this wonderful car and I'm trying to hide names and brands but I said to him, it's such a wonderful car this, but there's another German model that sort of fits this thing, similar, why did you buy this one? He said, he gave me all the quicker, smarter, faster, easier, he said, oh the torque is like three newton metres more and the kilowatts is like 40 kilowatts more and the fuel economy is just - I go, yeah, okay, alright.
So he gets into the coffee room and another director says to him, so why did you buy this nice German one, because I know there's another German one that's sort of similar and he rattles off the same things. So he gets to the secretary and his secretary says to him, you really have a smart car, I love the colour, you know, white, it's beautiful in white, but I know there's another German model there, why didn't you buy that one? He said, oh quicker, smarter, faster, torque. She said, I'm really sorry, you know, I'm just the secretary, I know nothing about numbers, not like your engineers, so can you just explain it to me again? He said to her, I like the lines. Okay.
So he went into the coffee room in the afternoon and one of the inventors of our business walked up to him and you know, they're very close friends, known each other for 20 years, he said to him, why did you buy this German one and not the other one that's sort of, you know, same question. He said, you know, I'm turning 50 soon and that other German one, old people buy that.
So I thought I'd buy this one because it looks a bit guppy and I don't want people to know I'm turning 50. That's the win. Quite often, when we combine understanding our customers win and the business result, both of them and we understand their true need, we will make the sale. This is called sales excellence. I love this stuff.
Meeting your true customer need and meeting the win result actually gives you a premium on asking more margin than what you may thought you could’ve got. Karl told us that. You know, when you deliver this, people will pay more because they want to talk to someone. They will pay more because you understand them, not because you have the best product of the best service or maybe you have both of those, but you focus on those, one of those areas of differentiation.
Then I talked to you about going global, we started in Brisbane very humbly and very, very quickly, rapidly went to the international mining market. So you do you do this? Well you do thorough research on your market and there's such a wealth of information in the digital economy to go just find these things. You can find ease of doing business indexes, you can get information from the World Bank, you can get information anywhere you like. Do your market research well and then segment your market. These things are simple, but Karl, when he spoke to us, also told us that there were some customers he didn't want. He wasn’t being rude or anything, he was just explaining to you his segmentation of his market.
Let me explain to you my segmentation. If you have a coffee with me afterwards and you walk up to me and I say hello, how are you and maybe ask who you work for and your answer is not a mining company, you know, I'm sort of a little less interested.
If you say well you know, I've got an underground mine, well I don’t want to listen really any more.
I will be friendly and I will respond and so on, but I know I'm not going to make a sale tonight and that's fine, I will accept that. But that's my segmentation, alright and so every one of you wanting to be successful in business need to know your market segmentation off by heart. Then go where the potential success is. Again, very common, very logical, but you can learn from my accent that I wasn't born in this country, I've been here almost 11 years and have been a citizen for almost nine and I love being in Brisbane, but I wasn't born here.
When we do market research and somebody says to me, oh there's this potential in South Africa to develop something, you know, but there's also a bigger market in Brazil. Guess what? My bias goes to South Africa for some reason. Because you've had a good holiday in Istanbul doesn't mean that Turkey's market is the best now. Just trust the science. I have a friend in Santiago in Chile, he's a very successful salesman and when people go up to him and say, why are you so successful with sales? He says, in his English, he says, fish where the fishes are. Okay, that's what he's telling you. Do your market research, segment your market and follow the science through, alright.
Then one of the tools that I think is absolutely great that Australians have access to and Queenslanders have access to, Australian Investment Queensland and AUSTRADE. We've actually opened up our office in Indonesia on the back of a mining mission going - actually me going there in 2009 looking at the market, segmenting the market, deciding that it's a good place to be, up to opening an office two years ago. We currently have 14 radars in that region, we have two offices and 12 staff on the back of the work that we've done there. I've recently gone to Turkey with Trade Investment Queensland, also supported by AUSTRADE, went to Istanbul. That led to me following back there to Istanbul and to Ankara, putting proposals to the market.
It's phenomenal the amount of information that you can get from Trade Investment Queensland. Last week we had a session with all the trade commissioners, here in Brisbane, from Europe, from America, from South America, from India. It is phenomenal the information that you can get from there, so I would encourage you to go there.
So that's very simple from me, just a few pieces of advice and that is be different and don't be afraid to sell.