We've all been there. You're at the car dealership, negotiating with the salesperson. As you get close to a deal, they say they have to duck out to speak to their manager.

But do they really? Or are they just chatting about their weekend while they keep you on the hook? A user on Q&A site Quora posed the question, sparking a fierce debate.

According to one respondent, the old "talk to the manager" routine is just a tired old sales trick. "LOL, great question! The answer is NO," wrote consultant Daniel Pearl.

"There is a popular technique in sales, which has been mastered by the auto sales industry, called the 'higher authority' close.


"Simply put, the salesperson asks the prospect for a commitment to do business, in return for a price (or other negotiable item) which they already know they can obtain. So while there are times they truly need approval from a manager, most of the time it's just a technique."

According to Mr Pearl, the way to master the technique is to tell the potential customer, "I would need to get approval on your request, but I hesitate to ask for such a huge concession unless you are certain there are no other obstacles to moving forward.

"If my manager approves this, are you prepared to move forward immediately? If not, let's discuss any other obstacles BEFORE I go to my boss with this request, so I don't get egg on my face by getting his approval and then having to tell him you were just curious.'"

Software salesman Doug Wampler had a slightly different take. "Many salespeople are given certain pricing parameters and many times the buyer is asking for above what the salesperson can give without further approval," he wrote.

"This is often well known and abused by savvy buyers who won't take any offer until they get to a manager so it's become a stale tactic to signal to the potential buyer that the sales rep has fought for the best price without actually doing so.

"So the answer to your question is 'no, it's not always real', but not always sleazy."

Others disagreed, however, claiming that manager approval was always needed. "As a product specialist for Volkswagen I can give some real world insight to this," wrote Elliott Moos.

"The short answer is yes, we always go speak to a manager. Managers have the entirety of the decision-making power in the dealership when it comes to numbers and figures. Our job is to ask hypothetical questions and be the first, second, third and fourth 'no'.


"When buying a new car it's important to know that the internet basically destroyed all efforts in making really, really good car deals. Today, it's more about hundreds of dollars than thousands and even in a desperate situation a large discount off an already-discounted price is pretty rare.

"Long story short — find the highest-volume dealer for your desired make that's most local to you, and the odds are it's a great deal no matter what."

Former mechanic Doug Scott also claimed the "manager talk" was real, but gave a slightly different version. "Yes they do, and with most dealerships now having offices with glass walls it is too easy to get caught not going to the manager," he wrote.

"That does not mean they are getting approval, it actually means the salesman goes in and tells the manager what he is planning on doing with his commission, and maybe a joke or two. They are not discussing your offer.

"And something else to remember, you do not need to give a deposit before the salesman goes to the manager. They use that ploy to make their story of going to manager easier to believe."

Quora user Kevin Burke, meanwhile, said the manager talk was real "to some degree". "Many dealers use what is called a 'track' system to sell vehicles," he wrote.

"The salesman runs back and forth between the customer and the sales manager delivering offers and counter offers, trying to close a deal.

"In a case like that, obviously they talk. Other dealers price differently — no-negotiation stores are catching on, some do internet pricing to reduce the hassle, but no car or truck EVER leaves a dealer or is sold without the salesman submitting it to a sales manager for approval.

"The cars belong to the dealer, not the salesman, and the manager has to make sure there is enough money in the deal.

"Regardless, sales managers and sales people do talk, but neither of them is really working for the buyer. Everyone is paid on gross profit — so the conversation is, 'How do we bump this deal up?'"