A smart alternative to the RFP process is to provide a large list of possible candidates with a very simple set of questions that will help narrow your search before you even begin to think about entertaining a proposal.
Questions will vary by industry and company, but here are a few basic examples of questions you could ask your potential partner:
How many years of experience does the agency have?
How many other clients has the agency worked with on (your specific task/function)? Ask for case studies.
What does the agency’s work process look like, and how do you (the client) fit or factor into it?
How does the agency benchmark, and is that similar to how your company measures success?
Once you’ve narrowed your search to include only the strongest vendors equipped to address your needs, you can begin brainstorming internally about what your company really wants from an agency partner.