We often hear sales pitches from representatives of Internet-related services and products. Sometimes we even have empathy for the person making the pitch. We tend to recognize the difficult role of a salesperson, based on our own experiences.

You’ve probably never heard a pitch in which the salesperson hasn’t suggested the product would be great. As the buyer, we sometimes are guilty of being overly optimistic about the benefits of the products and services we are considering. Perhaps we need a more realistic view.

Why does this matter? In 2009, every dollar you spend will need to pay off. There will be much less tolerance for products and services that do not give us the return we need. In view of this, here are strategies that can help you align your spending with the results you need to stay in, and even increase, your business.

Listen closely to the salesperson’s pitch and be practical. When a salesperson presents the product to you they often alert us that some dealers actually achieve remarkable results, and with the right variables in place your dealership can, too. I have a vivid imagination and I would imagine that you do as well.

Our imaginations can get us in trouble when we are listening to a salesperson. I used to say at our dealership that I was a “lay down” and would buy most anything from any salesperson, then find out the product or service did not meet my expectations. The trouble was my imagination was considering the best possible results when in reality I should have imagined more practical results. This is similar to a customer who hears the highest value when we say the trade-in could be worth anywhere from $10,000 to $11,500. Think of your own selective hearing and make sure when you hear a pitch you focus on the lower return or at least the average return and base your decision on those results.

Project your expected return on investment. A recommended guide is at least 5 times return on your Internet marketing spend. If you spend $1000 for a product or service, expect a return of $5000. Just do a simple calculation in front of the salesperson and let them know you will continue to use their service as long as your dealership obtains the results you penciled. If sales people start to backpedal, you have your answer. If they learn forward and suggest that you can expect that and more, be more willing to sign up.

Sign up for month-to-month services with 30-day out agreements vs. long-term contracts. A very positive trend in favor of dealerships is one where product and service providers offer that. Some companies believe your dealership will enjoy their product/service so much that they are willing to take the risk of losing you if their product/service does not meet the objectives you both agree too. Measure your processes and adjust. Most every product/service is unique and requires diligence in operating processes to be considered a success at your dealership. Find out what processes have worked at other dealerships to obtain stellar results. Put those processes in place at your store. If this requires too much change on your end to be a success, the product or service may not be a good fit.

The process should fit your operation, not the other way around. Once you have processes in place, measure them and the results and keep adjusting so you obtain the best possible return.

One final element is to be open and optimistic. You never know when you will see a real business builder disguised as an average idea. This can be a great year. The best results will come from matching the best products and services to what you know your dealership can handle.