23 RFP questions you should ask your next wellness vendor
It’s RFP season again – do I hear a “Woohoo”? Nah – I didn’t think I would. They’ve been a main component of the vendor-selection process for years, but none of us actually like ‘em. Wellness Consultants don’t like them because they take a long time to write and review. Vendors don’t like them because they take a long time to complete and don’t allow for any back-and-forth discussion like you get in a live demo. And clients don’t like them because they don’t usually do a good job of helping with vendor selection. Wait – what? Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do? Well, yes (with a major emphasis on “supposed to”), but most RFPs are canned, loaded with generic questions that most vendors will answer the same. They’re either closed-ended capabilities questions (“Do you have a health assessment?”), or they’re open-ended-but-relatively-dry questions that allow a vendor to bloviate and obfuscate (“How do you measure ROI?”). Personally, we don’t like RFPs because they work well for in-the-box vendors, and we’re anything but … but I digress.
RFP questions should do so much more than simply weed out the bad fits. They should force vendors to think outside the box with open-ended questions that tell you about how they think and collaborate with clients. We were at an onsite presentation recently and a consultant said, “You have 15 minutes to create a promotional plan and incentive design. You have 5 minutes to ask us anything you’d like, and 10 minutes to create. Go!” Now THAT is how a sales presentation should go. Can the vendor’s representatives think on their feet? Do they really know compliance? Are they creative, or are you getting canned promotions? Do they even know the questions to ask in order to find a client’s pain points and priorities? Are they really focused on your unique goals (and prepared to support them), or are they just saying what they think needs to be said to close the sale? I realize it’s a sales team – typically not account managers – walking into these presentations. So? Shouldn’t the entire company share philosophies and fundamental beliefs? Ask any one of our Boomers, regardless of his or her role in the company, what our feelings are on incentives, and you’ll get an earful. Again I digress.
So what SHOULD be asked in a wellness RFP? Here are 23 ideas to get you started…
- Are your contests all the same mechanic (e.g., “Most X wins”), or do you have more complex mechanics? If so, what are they and how do they work?
- Describe some of your most stimulating challenges that drive the highest sustained engagement and explain why they work.
- Is your program “configurable,” “customizable,” or both? Please provide examples.
- What are your philosophies on incentives (regardless of what a client is asking for)?
- How do you validate and reward for activities outside your program for incentive purposes, and what type of “outside” activities would you advise your clients to do?
- Most vendors claim to be engaging. What’s your “secret sauce” for driving/maximizing engagement?
- What part does “social” play in your program (intentionally vague)?
- What percentage of your staff is dedicated to client/member service, and how are they proactively engaging with clients? How many hours of hands-on support will we receive each month?
- What does “innovation” mean to your organization?
- Why did the founders start the company, and how has your mission changed since then?
- Do you have a “Zero-Bug” policy?
- If not, on average how many bugs do you have at any one time, and what is the average length of time before resolution?
- Do you have any bugs that will never be resolved (if so, how many)? (FYI, the wellness company where our COO used to work has 300 that will never be resolved!)
- Do you write your own software, or is ANY of it outsourced? (The reason you want to know this is because if they outsource, they have no control over bug fixes. We ALL are software companies, so we ALL have bugs from time to time – but how quickly they’re resolved is critical.)
- Are you financed by outside sources? (You need to know how much control the outside board has and whether or not they’ll be sold after you sign up.)
- Are the founders still actively involved?
- Do you manage all of your own accounts? (One large competitor of ours outsources some clients’ account management to another company.)
- How many clients do you have? (Do you want to be one of thousands?)
- Are contests FULLY customizable, or are they just configurable?
- Can your incentive-management system accommodate multiple currencies?
- How often do you go to production with new releases? (For reference, we do weekly releases.)
- Do we have a limit on the number of company-wide contests we can run for no additional fee?
- Service is key – describe the level of service you provide and what fees, if any, are for service upgrades.
Our hope is that these examples can help you dig deep to not only zero-in on the best vendor with the best features, but also the best long-term partner to support your ever-evolving worksite-wellness needs. If you want more ideas, feel free to hit us up – we’d love to brainstorm!
Sonic Boom Team