This article is a summary of a conversation, held between Head of Content, Erika Davis, and our GM, Theron Glenny, on the content management function of a successful sales execution capability.
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We hope you will enjoy the video and benefit from reading this article, as a way to review and capture the key points.
Why you need a content management function
The content manager is the most crucial function in the content shop. Regardless, we see everyday that content shops don’t have a clear function designated to manage the content creation process. It’s very rare to see a clearly defined content manager so, if you don’t have that today, you’re not alone.
Without this, content is not created on a consistent or reliable timeline. Content may still be produced, but it is not someone’s focus to make sure it’s reviewed in the future, and that a similar package of content is created at regular intervals, moving forward.
This function maintains a longer term focus on what will be delivered when and what content will be needed to support upcoming sales quarters, goals, and campaigns.
What is content management?
This function is essentially the executive branch, in that they are responsible for making sure all functions are operating fluidly. This function touches all other “branches” of the content supply chain, and they’re the central point of contact who knows what’s going on at each point in the process.
While they’re not in the writing, day to day, they know what the writers are doing, and then they communicate that up to the content owner.
In addition to this coordination role, this function organizes content inside of the instance, creates collections and tags, uploads content, and runs A/B tests. These are the functions which make written content successful and accessible. The supportive roles owned by the manager are not going to be incentivized for sales reps to spend time on so, without this role, content is created but not properly managed and supported.
A content manager will collaborate across all content creation functions, and they are essentially a project manager as well as a messaging strategist. This may be only one person, but it may also require more headcount to ensure content is produced effectively and efficiently for a large number of internal teams.
Because sales teams need to be confident in the content they use, they have to be involved in the supply chain. The manager is collecting that input from reps, as well as going to marketing to adopt helpful messaging and collateral, and synthesizing them. Without this coordination, valuable themes and messages from marketing do not get translated and communicated in the sales “voice.”
As one way to accomplish this, content managers often oversee content writers, who are housed within the sales team, and they are distinct from content writers who may be on the marketing team, writing for different audiences.
Sales content managers, and their writers, are thinking not only of those outbound messages to get meetings, but also the full sales lifecycle and the additional process, nurture, events, and follow up sequences needed to support that full journey.
To do this successfully, the content manager will assemble a working group to write each piece of content. This requires end users, subject matter experts (SMEs), and the writers who will create it. This working group tiers up to the content manager who will take the sequence, plug it into the platform, and then hand off to the content enablement function to guide reps to use it.
Further down the lifecycle, the manager will connect with the analyst function, in a feedback loop, to understand how it’s performing and direct any needed updates and sunset content when it’s no longer relevant.
Overcoming common challenges
The biggest obstacle to success for the content management function is misalignment. This function coordinates different perspectives, but he or she should work with leadership to develop a decision making process which helps to break ties and decide, in a process larger than the manager’s ability to gain consensus, to make choices in instances of disagreement.
For instance, reps may like a certain kind of messaging and advise a sequence which aligns with their communication preferences. But, after that sequence is written, leadership flags it as out of alignment with the go-to-market strategy. In those instances of disagreement, the content manager can often take the brunt. This is why a supportive structure, inside of the content supply chain, is so important for guiding the team toward decisions.
The second challenge which frequently arises is that this function may fall on the shoulders of someone who is expected to serve every function on the content team. One person may be expected to do writing, management, and enablement. This is a lot to land on one individual.
This is why we recommend separating these functions out, assigning them to different people on the team, so there are more eyes on the content being created and the burden doesn’t fall onto just one individual.
For instance, the best person on your team to serve as a content manager may not actually be a good writer. He or she may be, instead, a gifted project manager with the ability to build consensus across a team. This skill set is more important than writing, as that can easily live with other people.
How leaders can support this function
Leadership should be good stewards of this person’s time and talents, not asking them to do the impossible. If leaders in an organization want a lot of customized messaging for personas and industries, and then they want different sequence types to address those industries, spread across different teams, what sounds like a relatively basic “ask” for content to enable each of these teams becomes a task far too large to manage all at once. Leadership needs to prioritize what’s most business critical and clearly communicate that.
It’s also pivotal for leaders to realize that different teams or regions may need their own content managers, who tier up to a content owner with eyes on everything. Managers struggle, in large enterprise companies, to facilitate content creation for more than one large BDR team, particularly in different regions.
In these instances, it can be helpful to test the content manager role on one team first, and pilot the process, before scaling to other teams. This can make the job more manageable than asking one person to manage content for 20 teams and 10 different product lines, all at once.
Lastly, we recommend listening to the people who support this function. Your leadership may anticipate how many hours they believe it will take to get a sequence created, but that estimate may not, following the implementation of a content supply chain, reflect reality. Understanding that balance, and knowing when to add staff, is critical to keeping good content flowing through the sales engine.
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