23 RFP questions you should ask your next wellness vendor

by Jan 16, 2019

It’s request-for-proposal (RFP) season again (when it is not?). Can I get a “woohoo”? I didn’t think so. Requests for proposal are a main component of the vendor selection process, but none of us actually enjoy them.

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 back-and-forth like you get during a live demo. And clients don’t like them because they don’t usually do a good job of helping with vendor selection.

RFPs need to do more

Wait – what? Isn’t that what they’re supposed to do? Well, technically, but the sad reality is that most requests for proposal comprise a lot of “generic” responses that most vendors will answer the same, no matter the prospective client. They’re either narrowly focused capability questions (Do you have a health assessment?) or open-ended-but-relatively-dry questions that allow a vendor to bloviate and obfuscate (How do you measure ROI?). Personally, we don’t like requests for proposal; they work well for in-the-box vendors, and we’re anything but.

In our humble opinion, RFP questions should do so much more than simply weed out the bad fits. Rather, they should force vendors to think outside the box with open-ended queries 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? 

Regardless if it’s the sales reps (not account managers) delivering these presentations, shouldn’t the entire company share philosophies and fundamental beliefs?

Ask these key RFP questions

All of this said, what should be asked in a wellness RFP? Here are 23 ideas to get you started:

  1. Do your contests all use 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?
  2. Describe some of your most stimulating challenges that drive the highest sustained engagement, and explain why they work.
  3. Is your program configurable, customizable, or both? Please provide examples.
  4. What is your philosophy on incentives (regardless of what a client is asking for)?
  5. How do you validate and reward activities that fall outside your program, and what type of outside activities would you advise your clients to do?
  6. Most vendors claim to be engaging. What’s your “secret sauce” for driving/maximizing engagement?
  7. How much does social connectivity play into your offerings?
  8. 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?
  9. What does innovation mean to your organization?
  10. Why did the founders start the company, and how has your mission changed since then?
  11. Do you have a “zero-bug” policy?
  12. How many bugs do you have at any one time, and what is the average length of time before resolution?
  13. Do you have any bugs that will never be resolved (if so, how many)?
  14. Do you write your own software, or is it outsourced? (The reason you want to know this is because if they outsource, they have no control over bug fixes. We’re all software companies, so we all have bugs from time to time … so how quickly they’re resolved is critical.)
  15. Are you financed by outside sources? (It’s important to know how much control the outside board has and whether or not they’ll be sold after you sign up.)
  16. Are the company’s founders still actively involved?
  17. Do you manage all of your own accounts?
  18. How many clients do you have?
  19. Are contests fully customizable, or are they just configurable?
  20. Can your incentive-management system accommodate multiple currencies?
  21. How often do you go to production with new releases?
  22. Do we have a limit on the number of company-wide contests we can run for no additional fee?
  23. 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 not only dig deep into a vendor’s true offereings, but also find the best long-term partner to support your ever-evolving worksite-wellness needs. If you want more ideas, feel free to contact us to schedule a demo … or even get these questions answered by us!


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