Would you like fries with that? Where do you see yourself in five years? How would you describe the pain on a scale from 1-10?

It’s simply staggering the number of questions that modern life poses. Nearly every day we are asked for a password, preference or point of view. Mothers have it even worse. According to a 2013 UK study, mothers are asked nearly 300 questions per day!

No wonder so many people suffer from decision fatigue. The Wall Street Journal  looked at the issue in mid 2016. Its recommendation: where possible, simply refuse to make a choice.

That may work if you’re asked something as basic as, “plaid or stripes?” But it won’t help when asked, “Do you have any references of companies my size?”

Well, do you?

If you don’t have an answer, you’re going to look unprepared. Before you finalize your travel agenda, product mix or go-to-market strategy for 2017, take some time to create answers to the five questions that you will undoubtedly be asked throughout the year.

  • Who specifically will manage my account and respond to my IT needs?
    When responding to this inquiry, be specific. Better yet, make introductions. Yes, customers actually want to meet your support staff. They will want to know what projects they have worked on and what they understand about your SLA.
  • What is your staff turnover?
    This question implies more than meets the eye. On the face of it, customers want to know how experienced and stable your support department is. They also want to know if you’ve ever poached internal IT people or lost some to customers.
  • Are you able to document everything you do for me?
    While outwardly obnoxious, the question is worthy in an era of big data, automatic trouble tickets and more. The more you can show, the less you need to explain.
  • How can I trust that you will responsibly manage all of my employees’ passwords, personal information and company data?
    You can translate this into “how secure are your processes and systems?” To answer this questions deftly, you’re going to need great answers to questions No. 1 and No. 2.
  • How do you make money from us?
    Some customers are uncomfortable asking. They either don’t want to know or don’t know how to ask. But smart customers want to understand the economics of your industry and their investments. Rather than recoil, provide them specifics. They understand you’re not a charity and won’t be opposed reasonable plans to make an honest buck.

What else? How about the first question: “Do you have any references of companies my size?” You should.

If you think I’m off base, then consider what customers themselves recommend to each other when it comes to hiring MSPs. This includes:

“Are your techs certified?” “How often do you switch vendors?” “Will you support SaaS apps my managers bought online?”

These are all worthy inquiries, which are the mark of a true professional. “You are what you ask,” after all.

You’re also as good as the answers you provide.