Social media has revolutionized how companies handle sales responsibilities. The traditional approaches to reaching out to new customers have been upended in many ways as business communication becomes increasingly social, with sales teams and social media managers working together in a unit to drive customer adoption.

In light of all these changes, sales representatives are faced with a new set of challenges. They need to maintain visibility, work with new tools, and rethink how to close a deal. It might seem like a lot, but the truth is that the fundamentals are the same even as the technology and culture have changed.

Here are some helpful habits that successful sales representatives can develop to get the most out of social media.

1. Engage Across Teams

Before you reach out to a potential customer, you should reach out within your company. The overlap between social media and sales makes it essential for both teams to coordinate their efforts. A smart sales rep understands how interconnected those jobs are. Engaging and collaborating with the social media team members is a key element to the position, and thus should be a regular part of a sales rep’s activities.

Think about innovative new ways for sales and social media to augment each other. Since social media is still changing, there’s lots of room for creative approaches that can generate success in new ways.

2. Profile Upkeep

A sales leader should present a professional face for the company he or she is representing. Since it may be a work requirement to have a presence on social media, a wise approach is to maintain two separate profiles; one solely for sales duties and one for personal use. That will let you show that official side to the public while placing your personal life under whatever level of privacy you want.

A smart sales rep will also be sure to include a disclaimer in the bio of his or her personal social media accounts. Anything to the effect of “All opinions are my own” should help protect against most legal complications. Maintaining some level of professional conduct on your personal site is still important —since you may be in the public eye with both accounts.

3. Continually Build New Connections

Part of being a successful member of the social media community is building relationships with new people without making them feel like pawns in your mission to close a sale. Outreach may officially be a job for the social media team, but you should still be on the lookout for people to join your audience.

The focus should not be to push for a large number of followers who could be potential customers. Reach out to people who seem like a good match for your company’s goods or services. Target your sales initiatives toward a receptive audience. You’ll have a better chance of success without alienating large portions of your followers who aren’t interested in what you have to say.

4. Don’t Just Sell Products

Your audience doesn’t usually enter into a social media network with the aim of becoming a customer. People most frequently join those channels for personal reasons, so they probably will not take kindly to direct sales pitches. Social media sales requires a different approach that doesn’t focus on buying merchandise or a service.

Successful sales reps will highlight ideas that have more intangible appeal. On social media networks, you are selling a lifestyle and a brand name as much as a product. This is an approach that can be remarkably successful for brands, as companies such as Red Bull have proven. Think about how to combine a pitch for your product with a broader idea that will appeal to members of your social networks.

5. Follow Up Without Pressure

One of the last elements to any interaction between a brand representative and a customer is follow up. For sales teams, that means checking in with your prospective clients after presenting them with information about your product.

This follow up doesn’t need to push the customer to commit to a sale. Instead, think of framing it as the conclusion to a conversation. Ask what they thought about the product or if they have any further questions about it.

6. Focus on Service

A related part of all these interactions and conversations is to be genuine. Don’t disguise the fact that you are a sales rep, but try to cultivate a genuine interest in serving your customers as well as making a sale.

To succeed in business on a platform that many people use for casual fun, your focus should be on people. Some brands, such as Zappos and Rackspace, have made that element of service an integral part of their corporate culture. No matter what you need to sell, a focus on service can humanize your pitch and build a stronger rapport with your customer.

What does your sales team do to capitalize on social media? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credits: Victor1558, Kevin Dooley, Jeff Warren, Casey Fleser, Scott, Eflon, David Goehring]