Having helped many Agencies with their new business development efforts since the start of our business in 2005, I have seen the pain:  Marketer under the gun to make a change and forcing Agencies to react quickly to an RFP and giving them limited time to develop a solid presentation for the final pitch presentation.

Ultimately what this leads to is a less than best in class search, and potentially only those agencies most desperate to participate in the search, participating.

While I’m sure you feel like you need to move at lightning speed…the reality is you don’t.  Move too fast and you’re more than likely to make decisions that are not well thought through and based more on a need to move quickly than a need to find the best answer to your strategic challenge.

So what does this mean for you?

Some criteria to follow when managing a search:

Limit yourself to 7-10 Agencies in the RFI phase.   Any more and you’re likely to not pay as much attention to the details of what shows up in a response for information document.  They should be chock-full of good information about the Agency and how they operate and how they think.  Too cursory a look at the RFI and you’re likely to miss the real value of what the Agency can deliver.

Limit yourself to 3 Agencies in the final pitch presentation.  Any more – and again – too much to process – and frankly – not fair to the Agencies that are involved in the search.  They put a lot of time into the effort and reality is that if you (or your search agency) is doing their job, you should be at a point where the final three are the best of the best in your sector or the best of the best in the type of work that you’re looking to fulfill.

Visit the finalists.  Visiting the Agency is a good thing.  It gives you a solid sense of what the Agency is REALLY like.  It could also reveal some interesting insights relative to how the Agency operates and how committed the entire Agency is to working with your firm.

So bottom line is…don’t move FAST…move SMART.  The decision of bringing on a new Agency is too critical to make it a quick process.  Think about what you want, what your needs are, and take the time to determine who the best Agencies are in the space that you operate in.