Every business depends on a stable stream of income. And when you're starting a brand new company, you don't have the benefit of long-term, existing clients to help pay the bills. Instead, you have to attract new clients by building a sales pipeline for new business owners. While it can be tempting to spend tons of money on advertising or go to trade shows to get new people in the door, for long-term success, you need a sales strategy that's sustainable. In essence, you need to create a well-oiled sales pipeline that can work on its own, allowing you to focus on building a business.

Here are four tips on how to create a sales pipeline for new business owners:

1. Identify Your Ideal Customer

When you're building a sales pipeline for a new business, you first need to identify your ideal client. Once you do, you can figure out how to reach this audience. For example, if you sell pool supplies online, you might decide that your desired clients are suburban parents with healthy incomes. After you've come to this conclusion, you can think about the types of offers and promotions that would appeal to this particular audience.

2. Create a Referral Engine

Word-of-mouth marketing is one of the best ways to get new business, and it doesn't cost you a dime. If people are happy with your services, they'll share their experiences with their friends, family members and colleagues. As a new business owner, you can jump-start this process with a referral program.

For example, you can create a formal program in which customers get discounts for suggesting your offerings to their friends. To streamline this process, you can use services such as WishPond and ReferralCandy. But the referral program can also be more casual. If you have a happy customer, you can simply ask him or her to refer you to others who could benefit from your offerings.

3. Develop a Lead Generation Platform

If you're building a sales pipeline, you need a lead generation program that works on its own. Basically, you need to define a process for what happens when someone expresses interest in your company. For example, what happens after these individuals fill out a contact form on your website?

Many companies automate their lead generation programs. Rather than having sales people pitching to potential customers, they create helpful assets, such as downloadable e-books and guides, which they make available to customers in exchange for their email addresses. Then, the company sends out an automated email campaign to educate prospective customers before a formal conversation happens. This process can help create an ongoing flow of leads. When you are developing your own automated email campaign, remember that you will need to comply with any applicable email opt-out laws.

4. Experiment to Determine What Works Best for Your Business

What works for a business down the street might not be a good fit for you, and vice versa. Part of the process of developing a sales pipeline is figuring out the unique strategies that will work for your company. Think about which marketing tactics generate the most leads and where most of your customers come from. Once you understand how customers find you, you can focus your efforts on the tactics that drive the most leads.

Tags: Customer Relationships Sales