I have responded to many a RFP in my time. As I’ve written before, there are many things wrong with the process.

By and large, I find that clients aren’t taking the time to interview potential partners in person. (Would you ever hire an employee this way?) And when they do, they often ask the wrong questions and evaluate using incomplete criteria.

Here are five things that agencies typically present and how clients should respond:

1) The Ol’ Client Logo Slide

Every agency has a client logo slide filled with famous brands and impressive names. Next time you see one, ask:

  • “Which of these brands do you still work with?”
  • Pick some and ask “What did you learn from working with them?”

Do you get stunned silence or a thoughtful reply?

2) Creative Portfolio

“While that microsite for Puma looks really cool, does that design team still work for you?”

3) Leadership Team Bios

“Impressive, for sure, but who will be working on my business?”

4) Our Approach

Especially in digital, times change quickly. If your agency bothers to explain The Four Ds (discovery, design, develop, deploy), ask instead “how has your process and knowledge evolved to keep up with technology?”

5) Client Roster

Experience travels with people and turnover is high in the agency business. So when you hear that “we have deep experience in healthcare, non-profits and energy” ask “great, but who have you worked with here and in past jobs?”

The agency benefits because their past experience matters again and you get a fuller picture of the team and their talents.