Using Insights to Drive Growth, Teamwork and Effectiveness

John Jacko, Chief Growth Officer of Pentair

Our team of experts from the Revenue Enablement Institute studies how leading organizations are transforming their commercial models to accelerate revenue growth.  We profile growth leaders – CXOs – who are at the forefront of defining, enabling, and leading the execution of the 21st Century Commercial Model.

John Jacko, the Chief Growth Officer of Pentair has been at the forefront of sales, marketing, and service transformation his entire career.

Below, I asked John Jacko how his team at Pentair are digitizing their go to market process to give their revenue teams and channel partners the visibility into customer engagement, opportunity, and lifetime value they need to accelerate growth. 

Stephen Diorio:  Our research tells us that growth leaders view visibility into sales engagement, forecast accuracy, account health and seller activity as the top four ways they can improve sales performance. This has become even more important as organizations move to remote selling and lose face to face contact with their selling teams, partners, and customers.  You share that opinion. Can you tell us why?

John Jacko: Visibility is a big priority to our organization as we seek to digitize the end-to-end process and use technology as a force multiplier to make our sales teams and partners more productive.  My view is visibility into granular sales activity and voice of the customer data is critical to getting sales, marketing, and channel partner teams working together. This includes improving the effectiveness of our partners, improving the visibility and ease of doing business with Pentair, and allocating resources to the best product, market and client opportunities with a high degree of precision, all in the name of growth.

Stephen Diorio:  What initiatives has your organization put in place to give your revenue teams and partners the visibility into account health, pipeline activity, seller actions, and opportunity potential they need to be effective?

John Jacko:  We have several initiatives under way. They all began with sponsorship from our CEO and the leadership team in 2019. The CEO leadership was critical to onboarding the enterprise in our digital transformation. Our initiatives support our culture of putting the “Customer First” and leading with data to provide an improved digital customer journey.  From a process perspective, our Commercial Excellence program identified a number of critical customer initiatives from “idea to cash” including customer segmentation, deep voice of the customer, and improved launch processes, to name a few. These are all potential areas to accelerate business with our sales and channel partners. From a digital technology perspective, we’ve focused on the channel enablement process to provide our channel partners the information, insights, training and visibility they need to realize more opportunities in their markets and share our performance end to end.   We have also initiated a more robust Voice of the Customer program to get much more granular and actionable customer feedback. It drives our segmentation, priorities, and plans, and changed how we believed customers behaved.

Diorio: You mentioned that detailed data about seller activity and client engagement is an effective way to create better incentives that motivate sales, marketing, channel and service teams to work together to grow lifetime value and develop your core markets. Can you talk about how you are using this information to create better incentives and a common purpose?

John Jacko:  We recently released the first two of our new channel partner portals that are designed to provide all the information a channel partner needs including the core elements of our loyalty program.  The loyalty program is visible to the partners and ourselves to monitor how we are doing in a given geography and territory, and jointly develop new ways to deliver more leads, better serve our partners and their customers to grow sales.  

Diorio: You mentioned your efforts to digitize the dealer process are a big part of your digital transformation of the customer journey because you rely so heavily on those partners to grow.  Given the physical nature and complexity of many of your products, what are the keys to digitizing that channel.

John Jacko:  We have focused on providing dealers information about products, their performance, loyalty programs, training and opportunities in their markets.  We’ve developed a product information management (PIM) system to support the distribution of this information, and both content management and automation management systems to personalize all of this. But also, we created a more direct connection with our end customers to provide them more advanced insights into opportunities, service issues and voice of the customer feedback.  Our goal is partner enablement through better data management so that they have the information to accelerate their growth, with leads, product information, launch plans and jointly setting growth expectations.  It’s important to us to educate partners about the ways they can use the visibility and tools we are giving them and the customer relationships we are building to be more successful.  

Diorio: Our research suggests sales transformation is much more about change management than it is about technology.  Pentair seems blessed to have a strong corporate commitment to growth and top down support for the digital transformation of the go-to market process.  Many of the leadership teams we work with cannot get on the same page about where growth ranks as a company priority, much less how to grow. How are you so successful in this regard?

John Jacko:  Driving profitable growth is one of our company’s top priorities shared across our leadership team.  We have strong leadership to prioritize digital transformation that begins with our CEO, supported by our Board and stretches across the company.  We also know we need to ensure the right execution on our growth priorities and spend time prioritizing these initiatives to focus on the vital few.  

Diorio: Many organizations are experimenting with new structures for leading growth. Putting in place executives with an expanded remit to get sales, marketing, service, and product teams to work together to deliver a better customer experience and grow lifetime value. You were recently promoted from a traditional CMO role to become the Chief Growth Officer.  What does that change entail, and how does that play into executing on your growth vision?

John Jacko:  The change includes the addition of Corporate Communications, Enterprise Strategy, M&A and what we call the Digital Customer. The Growth team focuses on the talent, processes and technology as well as provides a “home room” for the segment and business unit marketing teams. We also have developed some shared service functions that support the businesses in their transformation.  Culturally we are lucky in that we have an effective matrix organization, and marketing has always partnered closely with P&L, sales, technology and product leaders. The shift to the Chief Growth Officer role has the benefit of providing more executive ownership of some key growth initiatives – notably our 360 view of our customer through responsible and secure data management, which our team is charged to bring together and govern.  Given the importance of advanced analytics and personalization, the delivery of the right customer and product data provides the visibility our teams count on to optimize our growth formula.  Forecast accuracy. Enabling digital channels. Arming dealers with leads and client insights.  Creating more data driven incentives that map to customer lifetime value.

Diorio: You mentioned the growing role of advanced analytics and AI in driving these programs. Those skills are often not native to an industrial B2B company and they are hard to master. How have you developed these skills and capabilities to scale your efforts?

John Jacko:  Developing that talent is a big part of my new role.  You’ve got to take things a step at a time and build and evolve organizational skills.  To us, 2021 is a year we plan to leverage the fundamentals we have in place in terms of our understanding of how and where to apply advanced analytics and AI to our customer journey, and the skills we need to further develop or acquire to accomplish that.

Diorio: When you look back, what do see as significant leverage points for building a growth culture at Pentair. 

John Jacko:  Let me reiterate that we are in early innings but momentum is building.  Aside from the support of the CEO and a seat at the table (which is really important!), I believe laying our foundation of Commercial Excellence, bringing in some new talent, establishing standard roles and accountabilities and beginning to train in competencies for the standard roles was key. I would be remiss in not mentioning a focus on the fundamentals.  Our segmentation exercise brought the customer, their insights, and their journeys right into the room with us and stopped people’s individual stories of what they thought was the answer.  Data wins and this was a real cultural shift. 


John Jacko is Chief Growth Officer at Pentair, overseeing all strategy, M&A, digital customer, marketing and communications functions worldwide.

You can learn more about the next generation of growth leaders and the state of-the-art management tools, skills, capabilities, and practices they are using to accelerate revenue growth and adapt to the new buying reality at the Revenue Enablement Institute CXO 100 Award web site.

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