This article is a summary of a conversation, held between our Head of Content, Erika Davis, and our GM, Theron Glenny, on the content owner function of a successful sales execution capability.
This is part of a portfolio of related videos and articles helping teams like yours to learn about and implement best practices for constructing a best-in-class sales execution team. Click here to see the full library of resources.
We hope you will enjoy the video and benefit from reading this article, as a way to review and capture the key points.
What is a content owner?
The buck stops with the content owner, as someone has to own the overall content supply chain, or the system a team goes through to create and approve content.
One of the most important jobs is to reject and approve new content going into the SEP. This typically comes at the end of a content request process, which starts with someone asking for a new piece of content. The owner has a bird’s eye view into the platform to see what’s already there and guides the process of having that content created, edited, approved, and added to the library.
For example, a content owner might collaborate with marketing to understand what they are creating and then translate that into sales copy for use in an SEP. This requires not only collaboration with marketing but also an understanding of how to make it relevant for the sales process.
This does not mean actually writing the content or even managing the players who will write it. Instead, there is typically a content management function between the owner and the writer.
Content ownership versus management
In smaller orgs, content ownership and management functions may live with the same person. However, in larger organizations, these are often split between more than one person.
Managers do the hands on work to get the content created, often overseeing working groups, and the owner focuses on approving the business case for the content to go into the SEP.
Someone in an ownership role, in a global enterprise environment, is tasked with serving as a point of contact between the executive leadership and the managers who create it. That bird’s eye view allows the content owner to understand the content needed and available across all teams and regions, eliminating silos and supporting big-picture goals.
This takes into account product launches, special campaigns, quarterly goals and KPIs, and all other factors which contribute to what is prioritized. The owner is essentially a “voice” for the sales capability, helping leadership to understand what is possible and what is needed to properly equip teams to meet their goals.
Why you need a content owner
Without a content owner, there is no consistent process for reviewing and approving content. If sales people have content creation permissions, then the platform is quickly overwhelmed by duplicate and messy content. This makes it hard to get full data, because cloned, modified, and overly personalized sequences don’t end up with enough sends to draw conclusions.
A great way to think about this is to compare it to the proverbial, “this meeting could have been an email” situation. In an SEP, it’s important to ask, not should this be an email, but should this be an A/B test instead of a new sequence?
The case for a completely new sequence should have a review and approval process to ensure quality messaging and metrics. To keep that process running smoothly, someone has to own it.
The alternative is typically siloing ownership for content by team, which means you lose a lot of the insights possible when you can see and scale best practices across the full org. Lessons learned stay at the team level, and nobody is accountable for making sure the data is aggregated to learn about sales messaging and make the modifications needed to be as successful as possible.
Overcoming common challenges
One of the primary challenges which will arise for someone in this role is the flood of requests which will come in for new content, and the need to prioritize those requests for maximum impact.
This requires setting clear expectations with your teams regarding what is and is not possible from supportive functions like a content supply chain. It also relies on a thorough request process that puts responsibility on the rep who looks into the instance for possible duplicate content and builds a case for why that content is needed.
Putting some of this responsibility on reps and managers is a way that shows buy-in for a sequence they really want, with a much lower investment than writing the sequence themselves. It’s important for the process to build in reps and managers in efficient ways to promote adoption.
Another challenge is balancing competing interests and misalignment. Sales and marketing are often not aligned, even in the best orgs with great cultures, because they have different leadership and KPIs. A sales owner or manager will often work closely with both teams, and will often have to decide which “voice” or team will be the tie breaker.
Lastly, especially if this function is not someone’s only job, it’s easy for this person to become overwhelmed. It’s critical to make sure this person is properly resourced so content production flourishes, throughout the org.
Playing well with others
Content owners have to work with multiple points of content, at the leadership level, making it essential that the leadership team aligns on priorities first. Healthy change management and organizational communication is key so the content owner doesn’t become a mediator.
However, it does often fall to the content owner to make decisions and broker compromise without this clarity. This necessitates someone in this role who can work well with others, facilitate compromise and collaboration, and make decisions.
The content owner, at the end of the day, works with and serves the entire content supply chain and each function which supports it.
Choosing the right person in this role ensures a healthy content supply chain and, ultimately, a healthy sales execution capability.
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