What Do Car Salesmen Discuss With the Manager? Top 3 Things

by Michael M. Dickson
Why Do Car Salesmen Talk to the Manager photo

You probably wonder what’s happening when auto salesmen talk to their managers behind closed doors and how it affects your deal. A former auto salesman and finance manager lets us in on what’s usually getting discussed in the manager’s office.

You’ve been there before. You’re talking with a car salesman about a vehicle you want to purchase, and he/she says, “I have to go talk with my manager.”

And you’re left sitting there wondering, “Why do car salesmen say let me talk to my manager?” It’s enough to make you wipe your hands on your jeans because the negotiations have just started and you feel like you’re in an oven.

You might even want to get up and follow them to see what they are talking about. Believe me, some people do just that, but it’s futile. As a previous salesman and finance manager of a highline dealer for 15 years, I can tell you don’t bother. We have hand signals and eye movements that can tell the manager everything while you’re standing there, so we’ll still get the point across.

So, why do car salesmen talk to the manager? Read these top three conversations auto salesmen have while “talking with the manager.”

3 Reasons Car Salesmen Talk To the Manager

There are many reasons an auto salesman may step out to speak to the manager, but these are the primary reasons you should know that impact your purchase deal.

1. How Much the Dealership Owns the Car For vs. Your Offer

The first conversation is very brief and often has one topic. The salesperson wants to know from the manager how much the dealership owns the car for. That number will dictate the entire negotiation with you.

For example, if your offer is well below the amount the dealership owns the car for, the salesman will come back and tell you you’re way off. And depending on your reaction (if you dig in your heels), the salesperson might become disinterested in the sale and look for a way to kick you out so they can move to another customer. If the salesperson comes back and says, “We’re close” or something similar, it probably means there’s already a deal there, but the manager told him to get a higher offer from you.

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2. How Committed You Seem To Buying That Day

Another hot topic between auto salesmen and managers is commitment. The manager wants to know how committed the potential buyer is to purchasing the car “today.”

When the salesman asks you how committed you are to purchasing a car, this is not the time to act indifferent. If they ask for a credit card to “hold” or “show” the manager you’re committed to buying, give it to them. If you don’t, you’re potentially costing yourself hundreds or thousands of dollars because the manager has no incentive to negotiate.

3. If You Will Be Trading in a Car

Before a manager gets too involved in negotiating with a customer, they’ll ask the salesperson if a trade vehicle is involved. This is important for many reasons and you’ll find a salesperson will ask this question early on.

Without getting too involved in trade talk, if you do have a trade, don’t bring it into the transaction until you’re sure you have the best deal on the vehicle you’re interested in. Instead, leave it open, but tell him/her the deal is not contingent on a trade. I say this, but as a consumer, you’ll need to be prepared for a real trade-in value if you bring it into the equation later, so do your homework on the true dealer trade-in value.

Knowing Why a Car Salesman Talks to the Manager Can Save You Money

I could go on and on about the behind-the-scene conversations, but truthfully, anything more than the top three is specific to each car deal. With that said, those top three are the most crucial and always happen in the very beginning.

Reviewed January 2024

About the Author

Michael M. Dickson is a freelance writer, blogger, and aspiring novelist. He specializes in automotive and insurance related articles and blog posts. He has fifteen years experience in a highline automotive dealership in sales and finance positions and as an agent/owner of Michael M Dickson Insurance Agency, Inc.

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