We are all pretty familiar with the typical sales funnel, wide at the beginning, narrowing progressively as you get closer to the “business end”. It is a simple, descriptive metaphor for other than an impulse or regular consumer purchase, but like most models, rarely reflects reality.

Prospects come into, and leave the sales process at all points, and then often come back, for all sorts of reasons that have nothing to do with the efforts of a sales/marketing program. 

Given that is the reality, it follows then that the relationships that evolve are far more valuable than the position of any prospect in the sales funnel, as it is the relationships that evolve that enable lead nurturing and recycling through the irregular, stuttering, and often unpredictable sales cycle.

A much better  metaphor in many cases may be a game of snakes and ladders, but that is nowhere near as neat and tidy in a board paper.