Automotive Sales Training

A Tower System Can Hinder The Growth Of A Salesperson

By September 21, 2010 December 27th, 2016 6 Comments

Believe it or not I have personally never worked a Tower System, although I've seen it in practice  in both the dealerships I train at and the ones I've purchased from.  I've always taught and trained my sales people  (and my clients sales people) to have the proper tools to professionally sell a car.  They know exactly where to start price wise, where to end, and know that nobody leaves without a T.O. It's all in how you train them and how you manage your expectations.

Women make up 80% of the business, in both sales and service, in the average auto dealership in 2010.  Most dealerships are slow to either accept that fact and/or to embrace it. It's a fact that both men and women feel more comfortable working with a knowledgeable sales person and feel they are getting the best deal, as opposed to someone that has no idea what they are selling a vehicle for.

In a Tower System, the secret person (sales manager) that the customer never sees, who has no idea who the customer is, is the person controlling the whole situation from a hidden spot, not the salesperson.  To me, and to the customer, this shows inexperience, is very unprofessional and makes the sales person, at least in the customer eyes, seem unintelligent. The tower system reminds me of a furniture salesperson.

How It Should Be

Every sales person should have a desk with a computer.  They should be able to pull up all inventory, as well as pricing and the age of inventory.  They should also be given the power to price out the lease payment with reserve and work out payments if financing. Given the power to truly affect the outcome of their deals (within certain parameters) you allow more room for salesperson growth. Of course this type of system wont work with every salesperson, you just have to hire and unfortunately fire, accordingly.

Not sure if coming from Detroit helps me or hinders me but 29 years of selling vehicles and averaging 40 vehicles a month my last 5 years in the business proves that I do know a little of what I am talking about.  After so many years in management I decided for me that selling vehicles was what I wanted to do. I averaged the highest gross per deal of any of the other 23 salespeople on the Sales floor, all because I was able to work a deal from beginning to end.  A tower system feels disrespectful to a customer and hinders the growth of salespeople.

Craig Lockerd

Craig Lockerd is the founder and CEO of AutoMax Recruiting And Training. He has nearly 50 years of experience in the auto industry. You can find Craig on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.


  • Rick Emmons says:

    I completly agree! Why hide price from the customer and the salespeople? Those days are over. It slows down the entire process. Managers are always saying “Go sit with your customer.” After they just had to leave them to check on the price because they are not allowed to have an inventory list or a computer. Take down all the towers,put the managers at a desk in the showroom. Only F&I people need privacy when they are going over confidential paperwork. They also need to go sit with the customers first in the showroom. Managers need to stay on the floor, they can use the salespeoples’s computers at their desk. It is much more personal. That is was selling cars is all about! Only a Judge in a courthouse sits above all people in a room.

  • Abe Hopper says:

    I agree. A tower system does not support a “our customer, our friend” atmosphere. When I walk into a Dealership with a tower system it is an indicator that sales training does not happen on a consistent basis.

  • Tom Rogers says:

    What a perfect world you speak of. I also have been in the business 30 plus years and have managed some very high volume stores. I now train salespeople on the east coast – hundreds of dealerships, thousands of salespeople.

    The quality of the salespeople available today would require years of training to be on a level to fulfill the tasks you speak of. Hell, most salespeople cannot professionally explain a lease, let alone figure one…
    Here’s the bottom line: There is not a high volume, high gross, store that I know of where the salespeople do not use a desking system. Period.

    And, I’ll go even one step further. Most old warhorse former managers walk more deals out the door because “they feel there’s no deal” than most rookies.

    The only solution: Get a great manager and let him/her work their people into their individual comfort levels. Become a tight knit family where each person watches out for their partners and everyone cooperates to get the job done. If the attitude of the salespeople is that the manager makes the calls, and that rule is accepted as a possitive, that’s how it will be… Success will come to those with positive mindsets and “get it done” work habits…
    Sorry to preach – simply passionate about the topic!

    • Tom that does make sense, the larger stores I have run have always had a desking system, “Tower”…Love what you said here….Most old warhorse former managers walk more deals out the door because “they feel there’s no deal” than most rookies. That is VERY true

  • Gail Sproul says:

    Tom, I totally understand where you are coming from. I think different parts of the country may dictate different situations.