There are primarily four different types of salesmen who can be involved in the sales process. They are called “Liners,” Closers,” “the Desk,” and “the F&I manager.”
A “Liner” is the salesman on the front lines. These are the salespeople who greet the customers as they arrive at the dealership and their function is to take the customers through the first steps of the sale. Their main goal is to help the customer select a vehicle. Most importantly, they will attempt to get the customer’s commitment to purchase a vehicle that same day.
In some dealerships, the same salesperson who greeted the customer will also be responsible for negotiating the price. However, many dealerships will have specific salespeople who will only close the deal once the liner has reached the negotiation stage. These salespeople are called “Closers.” The dealerships that have both a “Liner” and a “Closer” are called “System Houses.” System houses are often considered to use “high pressure” sales tactics.
“Closers” are considered to be skilled negotiators and normally introduce themselves to the customers as “Assistant Managers.” These system houses believe that having a “Closer” negotiate the deal is more effective because they can go in fresh and present the “Pencil” with authority. Plus, they can keep the “Liner” as the “good cop” and they can be the “bad cop.” Also, the “Liner” can remain with the customers to make sure they don’t “go sideways” when the “Closer” leaves the room.
The Sales Managers are often referred to as “The Desk.” Their function is to manage the sales department and provide the “Liners” or “Closers” with counter-offers during the negotiation. On occasion they will attempt to “close” the customer, but usually they perform some “Play-House-90” after an agreement has already been reached. For example, they may meet the customer at the very end of the negotiation and act like they are really making a sacrifice by selling the vehicle so cheaply. The concept of having the decision maker(the desk) not play an active part in the negotiation is essential, because it allows every counter-offer to be crafted properly and potentially maximize the profit.
The F&I Manager
The fourth type of salesman is the Finance Manager (“F&I” manager); “F&I” stands for finance and insurance. These salespeople are responsible for assisting the customers when they are signing the necessary paperwork to complete the deal. Also, they will arrange financing for customers through their vendor banks. This department can provide a large portion of the profit on each car deal through financing, leasing, selling warranties and other items (We will go into the F&I process in detail in Financing section).