The sales funnel metaphor represents the customer journey from initial brand awareness through lead and opportunity stages culminating in a successful purchase and customer relationship. Sales reps aim to nurture prospects down the funnel through the path to conversion and retention.

Common stages include leads, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified leads, proposal or quote, negotiation, closed won. Analyzing conversion rates and cycle times between funnel stages points to inefficiencies needing improvement. The sales funnel provides visibility into projected sales based on current pipeline trajectory.

However, while directionally useful, funnel visuals lack predictive nuance. Advanced analytics like expected time per stage, win propensity, and estimated lifetime value refine data-driven funnel management and forecasting. Still, the funnel remains a simple way to visualize leaks and blockages in the customer journey.

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