You’re in the final stretch. You’ve identified the top benefits brokers on your list. You have their benefits RFP responses in hand. And you’re this close to kicking off a new partnership.
But before you can cross that finish line, you have to complete perhaps the most important step in the RFP process: Selecting a winner.
As much as we wish this could just be a simple “true or false,” “right or wrong,” “pass or fail” type of decision, it’s usually not that black and white. When you get to this stage, you’re usually balancing quite a few opinions — and each individual may have their own perspectives on the finalists. To come to a decision that you can all feel confident about, you’ll need to be strategic in these final rounds.
Here are three steps to finishing your RFP process strong, getting your team on board with your decision, and selecting a great broker partner.
1. Run a smooth finalist presentation process
This is your finalists’ chance to demonstrate their benefits chops (and your decision-making team’s chance to get their questions answered in real time) — but you’ll need to set the stage first.
Before the big meeting, work with your team to determine the best format. Get folks to weigh in with questions based on the RFP responses, and identify 2-3 focus areas you want to hone in on.
When you invite your finalists to present, be sure to set expectations with them. Here are some key pieces of info to share:
- Time restrictions
- Your expectations for the meeting
- Focus areas
- A list of who will attend from your team, as well as their roles
- If you want to include it, it can be helpful to let your finalists know who else has made it to the presentation round. This info can help them structure their presentation to highlight what sets them apart from the competition, and set expectations going into the final stage.
2. Create an objective, data-driven finalist scorecard
After the presentations are over, it’s time to give the finalists a score. These scores will be key to making a data-driven decision (and feeling confident about it afterwards). To get that score, you’ll need a way to guarantee that your decision-making committee is comparing apples to apples.
We’re talking about a single scorecard (or a virtual form) with a couple prompts to assess how each finalist measures up to your company’s needs. You’re going to want to use the same set of prompts for each scorecard to evaluate all finalists objectively and fairly. Each team member in the room should have their own scorecard.
So how do you build a scorecard to weigh the info you need? Start by digging in on the reasons why you’re doing an RFP in the first place. Think about which competencies or qualifications are must-haves for your future broker, and which are nice-to-haves. Also consider how you want your next broker partnership to be different from what you have in place today. (We also suggest including a question to speak to your company values, to be sure you’re on the same page with what matters most.)
These scorecards are most effective when they use a rating scale for the prompts. For example, “On a scale of one to five, with five being the perfect fit, how does this brokerage fit our company’s needs in terms of services provided?” By comparing the total scores from each card, it’s easier to make an objective decision.
Be sure to fill out your scorecard soon after each finalist presentation. Even after just a couple hours, you’re likely to be a bit foggy on the specifics.
Want an example of a great scorecard? Download a sample scorecard here.
3. Get the executive buy-in on your decision
Once those scorecards are filled out, you should be just about ready to finalize your decision. But before that decision can be made officially official, you’ve got to get the sign-off from the C-suite.
When presenting your decision to the leadership team, it’s not just about what you say, but how you say it. In the words of Todd Bisping, Global Benefits & Health Manager at Caterpillar, Inc., (and Nava Advisor), “Know your audience and show them what they care about in their language — not HR’s.”
Use language and proof points that will resonate with their values and priorities. For instance, if your exec team lives and breathes data, make sure to hone in on specific savings estimates or customer success metrics. If your organization is laser-focused on hiring and retention, talk about the impact of a broker change from that lens.
The ultimate goal here: make a compelling case that’s easy for them to understand (and get excited about!) Remember those objective, data-driven scorecards you put together? Here’s where those scores will come in handy. Combining both quantitative and qualitative data — for example, their scorecard results alongside their case studies for similar clients — can be key to giving a full view into your reasoning.
This presentation will be much easier if you have an advocate in the room who you already know will support your decision. So find that champion and pull them in early — ideally, they should be a part of the process and/or finalist meetings. Get some one-on-one time with key stakeholders prior to the big meeting, so you can get their perspectives first. They may even help refine your pitch to make it 10% more effective.
Looking for more guidance through every step of the benefits RFP process? Check out our RFP Roadmap for expert guidance and free resources — including a plug-and-play RFP template, sample timelines, and more.