You know you've always wondered what they talked about!

Top 3 Things Auto Salesmen Discuss in the Manager's Office

by Michael M. Dickson

You've been there before. You're talking with an auto salesman about a vehicle you have interest in purchasing and he/she says, "I have to go to talk with 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 fifteen years, 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. Instead, read these top three conversations auto salesmen have while "talking with the manager."

  1. 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.
  2. Money-Saving Tip: 8 Ways to Save on Auto Insurance

  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Compare auto loans before you car shop.

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 2018

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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. He can be reached at

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