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.