No matter how much time and effort it takes to construct a business proposal or tender, its most valuable component is the executive summary. Get that right, and your efforts will really stand out from the crowd.
What’s its purpose?
The executive summary is all about grabbing the reader’s attention from the get go. Recall any TV courtroom drama and you’ll know defence and prosecution teams make a big impression on the jury through powerful opening statements. They make a persuasive argument for why their side of the story should be believed. They’re convincing because it’s clear they know all the facts in advance; they tell the jury they have all the answers. In essence, that’s what you do in your executive summary, right there.
Therefore, the purpose of your tender or proposal’s executive summary is to sell your solution to your prospective client’s stated problem. Your summary needs to briefly outline your complete understanding of the issue from the client’s point of view and state clearly why employing your company is the only possible answer. Your aim is to highlight the benefits of working with you – the exact methods by which you will do that then form the main body of the document.
If you consider that those assessing your proposal or tender are probably assessing a mountain of similar proposals or tenders, they are unlikely to read further than the executive summary if isn’t strong enough to stand alone. Your aim is to not only get it read, but have it passed on to other evaluators so they can be impressed, too.
When to write it
There are as many who believe you should create an executive summary before you write your proposal as those who believe it should be written after.
In our experience, the best results come from doing both. Writing a strong summary at the beginning is a great way of rallying your thoughts into a concise, winning argument of why you should get the job. Doing it at the beginning is also a great way to ensure you don’t run out of time to give this vital component the care and attention it deserves.
Once you’re happy you’ve answered everything to the best of your ability, go back to the executive summary and review it. There’s bound to be a point or two that’s come up in the body of your work that really ought to be mentioned at the beginning. Sometimes, you’ll need to delete a point that has turned out to not be possible. Either way, take the time to tweak and polish it to perfection.