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Cold calls and a Rolodex are things of the past for sales. Social media is making it possible for companies to think about this crucial business function in a new light. A sales rep no longer needs to reach out blindly, taking shots in the dark to find somebody who just might be interested in the company’s offerings.

Twitter offers brands a new tool for attracting customers. Businesses that are able to think creatively may find that their sales departments can work in tandem with their social media strategists. Whether it’s treating the sales pitch as a conversation, or finding new ways to drive traffic, these three brands have been knocking it out of the park with Twitter.

1. Starbucks

Starbucks Twitter

The coffee brand has been setting the standard for smart use of social media for some time, and its efforts in sales are par for the course. Direct mentions are a key tenet to Starbucks’ strategy. By keeping a close watch on when people discuss the company or its products, the Starbucks social media team can create conversations with potential customers.

For instance, say somebody mentions wanting to try something new in his or her coffee routine. An astute observer can respond with a few of the best beverage options on the current menu. Or when a student mentions that he or she is at a nearby Starbucks cafe studying, the team tweets back well wishes for the exam. These discussions are the meat and potatoes of Starbucks’ sales strategy on Twitter.

With social media, remember that the focus needs to be outward. Rather than treating a mention of your company’s name as a chance to push your brand on a new customer, frame it as a conversation. A Twitter sale isn’t just about selling. It’s also about talking, and Starbucks has this down perfectly. This strategy is great for strengthening the bonds with customers, securing their loyalty whether they are a first-time coffee drinker or a regular patron. Treating every sale as important and personal on a conversation-focused platform such as Twitter will give your brand a great reputation among your followers and the people they influence.

2. Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone Twitter

For some brands, getting people to your website is the first step to making a sale. Once people click through from a tweet, they might poke around and see what else you have to offer. This is a great tactic for any company where sales happen on the website. If your website encourages visitors to stay and browse, then sharing links on Twitter will be a huge asset for your sales team.

Rosetta Stone is one such brand. The key to improving its sales is to drive traffic to its website so that people can purchase its language education programs. Rosetta Stone took advantage of Promoted Tweets to get a broader reach for posts offering Twitter-specific deals for its language learning programs.

One of the company’s most successful campaigns was the “Best Deal Ever” promotion this past summer. In June, people could sign up for a Twitter exclusive deal on learning a new language. By tying in an especially good sale with a specific social media network, Rosetta Stone achieved a 35 times higher sales conversion rate, in addition to new Twitter fans. The combination of Promoted Tweets and exclusive deals can make for a successful sales campaign.

3. Etsy

Etsy Twitter

The growth of social media and e-commerce have also fostered the growth of innovative approaches to sales. A great example of how sales can look in the contemporary business world is Etsy. On this online marketplace, independent vendors and artists put their creations up for sale. Rather than force each of the small operators to fend for themselves, Etsy provides a central platform for getting their wares in front of the public. Etsy helps the artisans to make sales, and the business receives a small cut of each transaction, in addition to other small fees. Under this setup, both the company and the individual vendors benefit from the sale.

To improve the chances of finding a buyer for any given listing, Etsy tweets many links to products in its feed. These promotional tweets also build some suspense by not giving a simple description of the product. Instead, Etsy focuses on creating whimsical, eye-catching copy to accompany links. Some tweets also link to long lists of related items, so people intrigued by the tweet “Twirl and sway” will see a wide array of vintage 50s dresses, increasing the odds that the viewers will see something that catches their eye and convinces them to open their wallets.

Using short, evocative tweets also makes it easier for people to share and comment on the links. One of Etsy’s followers might see something that a friend would like, and retweet the link with a direct mention of the friend’s Twitter handle. Encouraging that type of sharing will further the reach of your product links, and get them in front of the right target audience for your business.

[Image credit: Victor1558]