Sarita Rao of AT&T on Growing B2B Executive Influence with Social Media

Inside B2B Influence is a podcast and video sequence that goes behind the scenes of B2B advertising and marketing and highlights insights with high enterprise executives on advertising and marketing for B2B corporations. We’re doing our greatest right here at TopRank Marketing Blog to raise the follow of rising affect inside and outdoors of B2B manufacturers to drive thought management, create demand and develop income.

Episode 16 of Inside B2B Influence includes a dialogue with Sarita Rao (@saritasayso), who’s President, Integrated and Partner Solutions at AT&T. Sarita contributed her experience to the State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report final 12 months and I’ve been following her carefully (and studying) on LinkedIn and Twitter ever since.

For any senior government questioning about how they may greatest use social networks to higher join with their employees and firm workers, clients, prospects and the trade at giant, Sarita is a good instance of what it’s best to do.

While the model she works for and the extent of seniority she’s achieved impart a sure degree of basic enterprise affect, Sarita earns much more affect concerning the matters she cares about most every day. She’s a residing instance of learn how to construct thought management and affect across the issues she’s keen about and engages on by means of social content material.

To be taught extra about how a senior government at a Fortune 11 firm is ready to be so efficient on social channels, I invited Sarita to the Inside B2B Influence present. We talked a couple of vary of matters from the worth senior executives deliver to their groups, clients and the enterprise when they’re lively on social channels to sensible recommendation for up and coming ladies enterprise leaders.

Highlights of this episode of Inside B2B Influence with Sarita embrace:

  • What ready Sarita greatest for her present management position
  • How social media engagement has impacted her profession
  • Advice for B2B executives on changing into extra social on-line
  • Advice for girls who aspire to senior enterprise management roles
  • Insights into collaboration instruments and know-how for interacting with present and potential clients
  • Tips on making connections with workers extra human
  • How Sarita helps to redefine buyer expertise at AT&T
  • An instance of what actual human dialog and interplay seems like in at this time’s enterprise world
  • The significance for at this time’s fashionable gross sales or advertising and marketing leaders to be lively on social channels

You can take heed to episode 16 (How B2B Executives Can Grow Influence with Social Media) of the Inside B2B Influence podcast right here:

Watch the complete video of my interview with Sarita right here:

Transcript – Inside B2B Influence Episode 15: Optimizing B2B Marketing with Influence

You have had an unbelievable profession at AT&T. What particularly ready you most in your present position as President, Integrated and Partner Solutions?

Sarita: You know actually, I feel it’s that I really like this job. It’s like accumulation of all of the issues I’ve executed. So I’ve been with AT&T gosh, 30 years. Thank you for not mentioning that, I simply did although. But I’ve been with the corporate for over 30 years and I’ve had the whole lot from gross sales to program administration to advertising and marketing. And if I consider my final job in advertising and marketing, it actually taught me about taking the complexity out of what we do in a know-how setting. It may be fairly complicated.

I feel issues are complicated after we make them difficult. There are easy methods to method nearly the whole lot. @saritasayso

My workforce has each direct and oblique gross sales and we take a few of our extra worth added providers and actually assist our clients get by means of the complexity of community transformation. So I’ll inform you it’s a set of the whole lot. It’s taught me the significance of taking one thing huge and making it one thing comprehensible. And I feel that’s as vital whether or not you’re doing it in advertising and marketing or whether or not you’re doing it in gross sales. I’d actually say that on this job, the place I truly helped launch the wholesale enterprise so I even have that phase, looks like I’m coming house to a very good group of company residents and we have now the chance to maneuver the needle. So, it’s actually a set of a number of issues.

You are fairly lively on social networks like LinkedIn and also you’ve change into a enterprise influencer with 1000’s of followers. Do you are feeling being publicly lively on social networks and within the trade performed any half in your profession development both by way of visibility, networking or data?

Sarita: Right. I respect the praise, I’m undecided concerning the influencer half. I do social for a few totally different causes: One, it’s to attach my workforce, proper? Across my profession AT&T whether or not we’re on a direct workforce collectively now, or a part of the bigger AT&T ecosystem, staying linked is actually vital to me. I feel that helps in many various methods.

I’d inform you consistency for social media is vital, but when I consider what I do at this time, since I’ve each oblique and direct gross sales, it’s an effective way to attach with my buyer base as effectively, for them to see what we’re as much as. So I see a number of benefits of social.

Social Media is nice technique to amplify the work that your workforce is doing and albeit, our subsequent era of leaders. @saritasayso

During this pandemic, I’ll inform you, I used Twitter extra to remain linked with the workforce as a result of we have been additionally distant from each other. I type of joke that we weren’t socially distant, we’re bodily distant. I discovered issues like Twitter as a fast technique to join with the workforce, since you didn’t have these hallway conversations anymore and so forth. So I in all probability upped my recreation somewhat bit in social for Twitter, however every one of many platforms is, higher than anybody, has a unique function and a unique motive.

While the variety of enterprise leaders lively on social channels has grown, not everyone seems to be comfy with “being out there”. What recommendation are you able to share for enterprise and gross sales executives who wish to be extra lively on social networks?

Sarita: First I feel you must have the innate want, proper? Because then you definitely’re going to be constant and also you’re going to talk with ardour about issues that you simply’re concerned with. I don’t suppose you may be on social and be robotic about it. It must be the genuine you. But you additionally want to recollect every of those platforms is supposed for one thing else.

I don’t do Facebook. Facebook may be very private, proper? I don’t do enterprise content material on Facebook. Do I keep in contact with some pals through Facebook? Yes.

LinkedIn is a unique expertise, Twitter is totally different and so forth. So there are totally different ways in which I feel, as a pacesetter or in that enterprise world, you’ve acquired to consider what you wish to be and the way you wish to be on the market on social.

And then for me, there’s a few other ways which you can construct your model as a result of that’s successfully what you’re doing on social media. First and foremost: private {and professional}, they go hand in hand. It may be tough to separate your private life out of your skilled life, however be certain that the content material that you simply’re placing up there represents your greatest self. Again, I’m going again to, keep in mind what the platform is for, I feel that’s vital.

You have to talk to be heard. @saritasayso #executiveinfluence

You have to talk to be heard, proper? Ultimately, social media goes to present you a platform to share your concepts and join with others.

It’s additionally a improbable technique to get a temperature, proper? Some of the surveys that you are able to do of what of us are considering outdoors of your world, particularly in an setting the place we’ve all been somewhat secluded from one another. I like utilizing a few of the totally different social polls and so forth as we’re serious about, “how do you get back to work?” It’s a pleasant technique to reinforce a few of the considering.

It’s vital to all the time be your self, to be genuine and never be robotic. @saritasayso #executiveinfluence

It’s vital to all the time be your self, to be genuine and never be robotic. I feel that’s actually vital. Determine the proper platforms. What’s the one you’re most comfy with? What you are able to do on Twitter may be very totally different than what you are able to do on LinkedIn. Make certain you’re investing within the platforms that may get the message that you really want, put on the market.

I really like using hashtags, however let’s be certain that they’re related. Let’s simply not use hashtags and emojis for the sake of utilizing hashtags and emojis, however be certain that they’re actually related. The motive why you’re utilizing a hashtag is to attach in that dialog. It’s not simply to place a hashtag on the market. So let’s be sure you’re utilizing the proper hashtag.

They say content material is king, however context is simply as vital. @saritasayso

They say content material is king, however context is simply as vital. There’s a ton of content material on the market, however not all of it’s being consumed. So be sure you’re in the proper context as effectively. I feel these are a few of the issues that I’d counsel of us take a look at. One of the issues I had the great fortune to be taught as I used to be beginning my social journey was that social media is known as a mixture of artwork and science. So success actually depends upon the dedication you wish to put in direction of it. But no matter commitments you’ve put in direction of it, be sure you’re constant about it. That’s a few of the recommendation that I’d have.

According to knowledge reported by LinkedIn, 60% of promoting professionals are ladies as are 52% of CMOs. As a profitable girl with a background in gross sales and advertising and marketing management, what recommendation are you able to share with different ladies in enterprise who aspire to your degree of success?

Sarita: Great numbers, by the way in which, I didn’t know these. It’s nice progress and sure, there’s all the time room for extra progress, however that’s a improbable path. It’s been actually thrilling seeing in social media, loads of the modifications and motion of some actually robust advertising and marketing leaders, in order that that’s been thrilling.

I feel from an recommendation perspective, before everything, I’d say suppose broadly. Don’t restrict your considering. Think broadly, ask these questions. Which, to me, is actually having that component of by no means ending curiosity.

Curiosity is simply so vital. Because you simply by no means know what you’re going to uncover and while you ask these questions. @saritasayso

I cherished going into advertising and marketing. I’ve an accounting diploma by the way in which. So I keep in mind after they requested me if I’d take a look at advertising and marketing, I’m like, I’ve an accounting diploma. And what that opened myself as much as is that I all the time needed to ask questions as a result of I didn’t know the reply. And even after I know the reply, or I feel I do know the reply, I discovered much more. So to me, curiosity is simply so vital. Because you simply by no means know what you’re going to uncover and while you ask these questions, it permits of us to consider that reply. And generally they’re studying one thing in that too. There’s an amazing dialog all the time available there.

And then be agile. People consider agile as a course of phrase. To me, being agile is the truth that you’re consistently prepared to maneuver, make fast and straightforward actions. It doesn’t should be these big, large shifts. Sometimes we wait to make these huge, large shifts. Sometimes it’s simply tweaks and changes alongside the way in which.

It is actually is about considering broadly, having that by no means ending curiosity after which being agile. I feel these are the three pointers I’d give, not simply within the advertising and marketing world, however, in a profession total.

As we begin to emerge from COVID, what distinctive instruments or initiatives are you utilizing to work together with present and potential clients? 

Sarita: All of them, proper? Everything from what we’re on proper now, whether or not it’s Zoom or WebEx or Microsoft Teams, choose the one that you simply really feel essentially the most comfy for these engagements.

I’ll inform you with these conversations, as a result of I don’t should get on a aircraft and pack my baggage, unpack my baggage, do all that different enjoyable stuff. I can truly see extra clients now, which is improbable. I simply picked up a worldwide workforce, they’re in 26 totally different nations and I acquired to fulfill all of them sooner, versus getting on a aircraft to go see all of them. We discovered totally different inventive issues to go do.

Even with our clients we do that. We have an advisory council and after we meet with our clients, we’re in assembly all day and so they’re giving us insights and we’re displaying them what we’re about to go take a look at. They’re giving us their suggestions so we are able to type of form our product portfolio with their insights. But within the evenings, we’re nonetheless doing the social hour, proper? Something we might have executed after we have been all in individual. There’s one thing very rewarding about that.

We had a star chef do a consumer dinner. About 20 purchasers have been on this. And we acquired invited into their properties. That wouldn’t have occurred earlier than. So we acquired invited into their properties and so they introduced their household on the journey with them, which once more, we wouldn’t have had that chance earlier than.

So sure, belief me, I miss and crave face-to-face conferences. During this little little bit of a break we had proper earlier than the Delta variant, we have been again in our briefing heart and it was completely thrilling to go meet with one in every of our companions. We have been face-to-face and we took the photographs and did that stuff. And we superior loads of our conversations. So, it was a unique dialog than a few of the different experiences, however I’ll inform you, they each have their attraction to them.

I see it as an thrilling alternative from a hybrid work perspective. I feel clients are way more open. They’re not ready for us to get on a aircraft to go to with them. And I feel the workforce as effectively. @saritasayso

So, I see it as an thrilling alternative from a hybrid work perspective. I feel clients are way more open. They’re not ready for us to get on a aircraft to go to with them. And I feel the workforce as effectively. Think about the whole lot our groups have gone by means of, every of us as people has gone by means of, many individuals homeschooling their kids. To know that we may construct an setting the place they may nonetheless do this and nonetheless be very current at work and be actually comfy…I imply, if a canine was barking in one in every of our backgrounds proper now, we wouldn’t say minimize video, proper and begin once more? This is us, proper? And I feel there’s one thing very charming about that.

All relationships have an emotional element whether or not they’re with trade consultants or your individual groups. For many, these relationships are taking place by means of on-line conferences. How are you and your groups making digital extra human?

Sarita: Absolutely. I’ve executed a cheese tasting at 5:30 within the morning as a result of that labored effectively in Asia. Right. It was an effective way to bond with the workforce. Cheese at 5:30 within the morning  not a lot. If you consider it, through the first couple of months of the pandemic all of us constructed our house workplace house and tried to seek out the place we may all be at house. We upgraded our cameras, we found out the microphones, we hung guitars and ukuleles within the background. We began personalizing the house, proper?

There’s this nice Twitter deal with referred to as room rater (@ratemyskyperoom) the place they charge the rooms and so forth. I feel all of us turned aware of that. I feel top-of-the-line promoting books on Amazon through the first month of the pandemic was, I don’t keep in mind the title of the e-book, however about studying and looking out on the titles of the books on folks’s bookshelves.

So we have now that component after which many people have type of additionally managed to change into lecturers to their kids and lots of adopted new pets and lots of simply spent extra time with their household and we’ve invited one another into our properties. We’ve had folks touch upon the house that we’re in. During the pandemic I used to be touring between Dallas and the place my household lives in Chicago. Folks knew the place I used to be just by my background.

So all of it did change into private. But if I consider what I inspired my workforce to do before everything, I requested them to set boundaries. It’s very easy to be in entrance of those machines hour after hour after hour. I all the time ask them after they’re type of working from house to take a second to disconnect. And in case you can’t disconnect, take that second to go for a stroll perhaps whereas being on a name. That’s okay. Maybe we even take a second to show the digicam off so you’ll be able to have that point. Setting boundaries has been type of an vital steering for my workforce.

Some components of the group did “no meeting Friday”. You truly noticed loads of of us on social media discuss doing a no assembly Friday.  I’ll inform you after I got here into extra of a buyer dealing with group, I’m like perhaps we alleviate video as a result of finally in case your buyer is obtainable Friday, we ought to be accessible Friday. The enterprise doesn’t shut off. So I feel no assembly Friday is one thing that has nuances to it.

I feel you must set a stressless tone. If somebody’s youngster is available in a room or, or a canine is barking, , I see it as a very good signal that I’ve fewer folks apologizing for that. @saritasayso

I feel you must set a stressless tone. If somebody’s youngster is available in a room or, or a canine is barking, , I see it as a very good signal that I’ve fewer folks apologizing for that. They now understand it’s okay. I feel that’s actually vital to set that stressless tone and take a trip. You nonetheless must take a trip, proper? Even if we have been on this planet of lockdown the place you couldn’t journey as a lot, only a day away, a two days away remains to be actually vital. Find one thing, to go off and do and take your thoughts off of labor.

For me additionally staying linked to coworkers, to household, pals that was actually vital. I used to like strolling by somebody’s workplace. I used to be simply speaking to somebody earlier at this time the place he was like, “you’d always pop out of your office, you’d ask a question”. He goes, “I feel somewhat disconnected from that”. I’m like, there’s nonetheless methods to go do this.  I used to do that method again after I first began with the corporate. When we first went to a full go house setting is I’d do howdy calls the place I’d simply choose up the cellphone and name somebody to say hey. I feel of us like that. Something else, I’ve gone by means of a lot stationary through the pandemic, loads of handwritten notes. I feel there’s one thing type of particular about getting these. We misplaced that artwork. Sometimes getting these handwritten notes was good as effectively. It was one other method that I attempted to remain linked.

Customer expertise is a spotlight and key differentiator for many B2B corporations. How are you redefining the shopper expertise at ATA&T to construct belief and deepen relationships? 

Sarita: I’d inform you when the pandemic first began, small companies actually struggled. And proceed to with the open and shut environments. One of the perfect examples I’ve of how we leveraged social media for our clients is our efforts with small enterprise. As they have been going by means of a few of their challenges, we seemed throughout our enterprise to say, what can we go do to assist?  There’s an company inside AT&T as a part of our Warner media household, Fullscreen, and, there have been at a gradual interval. So the workers there acquired collectively and so they constructed the social media playbook. So you’ve got this skilled company constructing a playbook on how you identify your social media setting when folks can’t come into your retailer and see your services.

They confirmed us this and that is lovely. It’s a excessive price for a small enterprise to get that recommendation. It’s not nearly opening Instagram and wallah, you’re there. There is a science to this as we talked about earlier. So we took that playbook and we supplied it to our clients, to the neighborhood without charge by any means. And that was only a improbable instrument. And we used social media to get that playbook on the market to 1000’s and 1000’s of shoppers. That’s a technique.

We additionally had totally different clients join in numerous webinar experiences so they may be taught from each other. I feel these have been a few the important thing methods.

We positively used our digital house. We created an space particularly for small companies inside our AT&T enterprise setting. We created a handbook on the way you construct a digital enterprise. How do you’re taking your bodily to your digital enterprise and so forth and shared that as effectively. So what we tried to do is, was take a few of the issues that bigger corporations have less difficult entry to and make these accessible to smaller companies.

One of my favourite phrases from the pandemic, I keep in mind a workforce member stated, “Sarita we’re in this together”. I keep in mind listening to that and I’m like, you’re completely proper. We are on this collectively. @saritasayso

One of my favourite phrases from the pandemic, I keep in mind a workforce member stated, “Sarita we’re in this together”. I keep in mind listening to that and I’m like, you’re completely proper. We are on this collectively. And then I heard that phrase time and time once more, and I’m like, wow, did we hear it from them or did they hear it from us? But the attractive factor was that everyone embraced it. So it’s one in every of my favourite phrases, we’re on this collectively.

In the State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report, you shared a quote concerning the significance of authenticity and that folks naturally belief different folks greater than manufacturers. You additionally talked about, “Working with credible B2B influencers can help build brand authority through real, human conversations and interactions.”  Can you share an instance of what “real, human conversations and interactions” seems like?

Sarita: We introduced Barbara Corcoran on to assist us. She has executed a sequence of webinars, we’re nonetheless doing them and I encourage of us to go watch them. You can’t get extra actual. Barbara additionally introduced her pals in, like Rachel Ray. So somebody that’s each inspirational and aspirational, proper.

If you’ve got anyone that’s going on the market to start out that enterprise, they’ve seen these people develop these companies. What I cherished about Barbara is we all the time supplied up a Q and a bit and it was like, “well, I’m thinking about starting this”. And she simply stated, you’re too late. You’re too late in case you don’t begin now. So she was directive and motivational as effectively. We’ve seen how Barbara has constructed so many profitable companies by means of her work. So I feel it was a really relatable and it was anyone, once more, that simplified one thing that was fairly complicated. She introduced emotion.

Folks say this isn’t emotional. It is emotional. So she introduced emotion into it and she or he introduced a way urgency the place urgency was required. And this wasn’t something that we charged our clients for. This was about us contributing to the neighborhood as a result of that’s what small companies are about, proper? It’s the neighborhood. So I feel Barbara was simply an enormous hit and simply so extremely genuine. That’s what I actually appreciated. And I feel that’s the facility in bringing the proper influencers on board.

How vital do you suppose it’s for gross sales leaders to be lively on social networks and construct neighborhood?

Sarita: Yeah. I feel it’s key that you must have a kind of full cadre of what your plan is. But social media, in my view, is without doubt one of the most vital facets of promoting. It offers unbelievable advantages however you must know the place you’re reaching your clients and the place your clients are. For me the main target is, as , is LinkedIn and Twitter. I don’t use most of the others as a result of that’s not the place my workforce is or my clients are. So I feel that’s going to be actually vital that the place you attain your clients relying on your corporation. There’s others, the place Instagram goes to be actually vital for that enterprise. So simply be sure you perceive the place try to be telling your story. I feel staying lively and updated is vital and staying related and the messaging of at this time is actually vital.

Social media, in my view, is without doubt one of the most vital facets of promoting. @saritasayso #executiveinfluence

I feel it’s wherever, proper? Social actually goes wherever from consciousness to consideration till the shopper is able to purchase. So there’s a number of methods of it. So I feel it’s  positively related. I feel you see extra manufacturers investing in social for his or her messaging since you get that broader attain and also you get a higher return from that perspective. But once more, keep in mind to be lively the place your buyer base. If you’re utilizing it for buyer acquisition keep in mind to be lively the place your clients are.

More manufacturers investing in social for his or her messaging since you get that broader attain and also you get a higher return. @saritasayso #executiveinfluence

Thank you Sarita!

You can discover Sarita on Twitter, LinkedIn and you’ll be taught extra about AT&T Business on their web site.

Be certain to remain tuned to TopRank Marketing’s B2B Marketing Blog for our subsequent episode of Inside B2B Influence the place we’ll be answering the B2B advertising and marketing trade’s most urgent questions concerning the position of affect in enterprise to enterprise advertising and marketing.

You may also obtain The State of B2B Influencer Marketing Report that includes insights from a survey of a whole lot of B2B entrepreneurs plus case research and contributions from advertising and marketing executives at manufacturers together with AT&T Business, Adobe, LinkedIn, IBM, Dell, SAP and lots of extra.


News and digital media editor, writer, and communications specialist. Passionate about social justice, equity, and wellness. Covering the news, viewing it differently.

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