That's right, I truly believe the traditional role of a desk manager is obsolete and will continue to evolve further away from its current definition in the next few years. Sales Managers that want to be on top of their game, be promoted, and be more successful, need to change their way of thinking.
Look at an old school desk/sales manager, their primary skill was to be able to successfully negotiate and work a car deal. This meant knowing how to calculate a lease vs purchase and manipulate all the numbers for maximum gross. This meant knowing the inventory extremely well; to be able to direct the switching of cars for better a better book sheet and a chance of an approval. Desk managers in the past held all the cards. Customers and Sales People didnt have access to the knowledge that desk managers did and thus desk manager were in a position of power. When it came time to close a deal, the sale manager could hold staunch stance in their negotiation. When a sales person didn't do their job, it was fair game for the sales manager to rip into the sales people, throw the incomplete credit application back them and yell and scream to get the job done.
Today, the job is completely different. Customers are incredibly well informed and the landscape of negotiations is very different. Today's desking programs can pencil deals 10 times better and faster than any human can. Desking tools, with a few simple inputs, can calculate the perfect deal including selecting the best inventory and bank program for the best front and back end gross. Software has really made desking deals a remedial task. What are desk managers left to do? The number one role of a desk manager today is to be a support, leader, and coach for his team. People are the only things that computers can't manage (not alone anyhow). A desk manager today must know how to motivate and coach someone to success. The old school mentality simply won't work, and desk managers need to become professional leaders. Through professional coaching and motivating, a desk manager will build a high performing team with little turnover that creates amazing results.
So are desk managers obsolete? The old school mentality, or role, of being a desk manager is obsolete. The position itself is not. However, the future is quite certain: to succeed you will have to be a much better capable of winning over your team and leading them to success.