Forget the dog and pony shows. Scrap the RFPs (Request for Proposals). Instead, take your agency candidates to lunch. Seriously. The reality is, no matter how big or small the agency, three or four people are going to be doing the work on your account. Take them to lunch.
Pitching multiple agencies against each other in a conference room only shows who's the best showman. Sending out questionaires and RFPs doesn't do much more than waste everyone's time and kill trees. Great, smart, impactful advertising happens because there's a personal connection between you, your company, your product and your agency team.
So, take the three or four people who will be working on your account to lunch. Find out if you like them. Do they talk more than they listen? What do they know about your business? What questions do they ask? And be sure to leave the agency principal at the office (unless she's going to be working your account on a daily basis). Leave the agency "pitch team" too.
Break bread with your agency team.