Writing a successful executive summary can increase your chances of winning the RFP bidding process. The executive summary is all about your company - it is a tool you use to sell your idea and potential. It is frequently used as a preface of the business plan and of the marketing plan.
In the executive summary, the main focus will be on the company, its mission, and its vision. The ability to explain who you are, what you do and your foundations and plans for the future may have a big effect on your potential customer.
The issuer of the RFP (request for proposal) is not looking for someone who can do the job at a low price - they are looking for a potential vendor and partner with technical expertise who can solve their problem and has the potential to grow in the future together with them and their innovative ideas. The goal is to find a vendor who can share the same project proposals and objectives with the same project stakeholders.
Sometimes the issuer may be facing some challenges regarding the procurement or the purchasing process in general, and they are looking for potential suppliers. In a situation like this, the issuer will create and publish an RFQ or request for quotation. Request for quotation is basically asking the vendors to provide a comprehensive pricing plan for a specific list of products.
Regardless of whether you are issuing an RFP or RFQ, there will always be included both the cover letter and the executive summary, as per recommendation. Several proposal types can be issued, but their structure should be more or less the same.
It Is Different From RFP Cover Letter
The widespread misconception about the executive summary is that it is the same document as the cover letter and vice versa. In practice, companies who are not fully aware of the RFP process and how the proposal should be written are often missing writing one of these two documents.
However, the RFP cover letter is a mandatory item you need to submit along with your proposal. Failure to do this will probably remove you from the bidding process, and you will have zero chances of getting the job.
The potential client will see this as a lack of interest from your side because if you fail to follow the procedure initially, what will happen later on?
The cover letter is all about the client. It should include some basic information about your company, business owners, and the potential solutions you are proposing to the RFP issuer's problem. On the other side, the executive summary is all about you as the potential contractor for the job, your elevator pitch, and it should explain why you are the best fit for the job.
The biggest difference between these two types of documents is that the cover letter is mandatory to submit, while the executive summary isn’t. However, it is highly recommended and encouraged to submit both of them, because that way you are showing that you have put extra effort in comprising your proposal.
What Is the Point of View of an Executive Summary?
A parallel could be made between the RFP cover letter and a cover letter you would typically write when you apply for a certain job. In the letter you are writing to the potential investor, you are talking directly to them, and putting them in the center of attention, just like you would in a regular cover letter.
In the RFP cover letter, you will mention the problem the issuer of the request for proposal is facing and your solution and business ideas. However, the executive summary is supposed to offer a slightly different overview of the same issue.
The executive summary is a document that is all about your company. It is usually written by someone from top management, hence the name “executive.” It should offer a wider image of the problem the issuer faces and a more broad opinion on how you understood the problem and how you plan to solve it.
This document should not go into detail explaining the solution you have come up with. Instead, it should cover the main idea and show how it fits into your’s and their’s policies and standard operating procedures.
How to Write Executive Summary?
Writing an executive summary is a highly individual thing, and it should be adjusted to the company that’s writing it. However, there are several sections each executive summary needs to have, and here they will be listed in order.
However, if you feel like there are some things that you need to add, of course, you are free to do so. It’s good to follow the proposed template because it will show what order you need to write things. Of course, this can be changed too, if there is a need for that.
Basic Points to Follow
Before we give you the exact template, let’s start with some general things you should or should not do when writing an executive summary. Everything is explained in more detail below.
The most important thing you need to keep in your mind while writing an executive summary is putting yourself in your potential client’s shoes. This is because there will be someone reading your proposal, and based on things you have written, decide whether you will get the job.
A good way to get closer to the winning point is to play with emotions - show empathy and stress on how you truly and deeply understand the issuer's problem and how that problem multiplies and affects different parts of the organization.
Good advice here is to try to put yourself at their place and see how you would feel if you were facing the same issue - think about what you would want to hear from the company that’s writing the proposal (and make sure to include that into your executive summary).
Confirm the Requirements
The issuer of the RFP will surely state their detailed list of requirements and criteria based on which they will decide who the winning bid will be. It is important to reconfirm that you will not be stepping out of the set boundaries while looking for a solution.
The thing is that the investors are sometimes limited by budget or looking for specific things that need to be completed. So here, you need to state that you are confident you will meet their requirements and that the criteria are understandable.
If you are using a previously written executive summary, make sure that you don’t forget to edit this part specifically because here, you are talking about project specifics that are unique to each different project.
Don’t forget that this is no place for you to discuss any project details in depth, like the breakdown of tasks, payment terms, deliverables, potential cost overruns, etc. Leave that type of information for later on.
Shoot for the High Skies
The quality of the solution you are proposing should be the best possible one, and you have to make sure to put stress on that in the executive summary. You need to explain to the investor that they will be getting top-of-the-notch solutions if they hire you.
You should be able to present the solution in a way that shows that you aim only for high-level ideas and that you find those ideas to be the perfect fit for their organization. However, don’t get carried away in explaining too many details and numbers since you will be doing this later on in other parts of the proposal.
Keep It Short
You need to be able to write the executive summary concisely. If the document is too long, the reader might lose interest and quickly rule you out of the game.
Try to explain the idea very briefly, so the reader can picture how that will fit into their organization and how it will solve their problem. But, on the other hand, try not to be too confirmative, saying that you will meet all requirements they will have at any cost.
As the contracted party, you need to keep the things very real - if some requirement can’t be met for whatever reason, you need to explain to the investor why it is not feasible and what your proposed solution is.
Giving closed answers, like “No, it can’t be done,” shows a lack of interest from your side, and you will not be the desired partner anymore. All this applies to additional requirements the investor may have afterward.
If some requirement from the request for proposal can’t be met, giving a reason why and proposing an alternative is a must. Otherwise, there is no point in you applying at all.
This attitude needs to be embedded in the executive summary, so the investor can see that you have that go-to problem-solving skills.
Two pairs of eyes always see better than one, which is exactly why you should never work on writing any part of the RFP proposal alone (sometimes this may even be practically impossible, due to the scope of work that needs to be completed to submit the RFP proposal).
It is crucial to have everything on point because the RFP response is your ticket for the job. In addition, the executive summary should be written by one person only so that two different writing styles don’t come up to the surface.
However, this doesn’t mean that only one person should read it. After the document is finished, make sure that you send it to other stakeholders to give you feedback. Here you can include your marketing team, sales team, SMEs, and other people working on the RFP response.
Each of them will provide you with valuable feedback that you can incorporate to make the executive summary even better. There is always room for improvement.
What Should Be Included in the Executive Summary?
There is a certain way how you should structure your executive summary. The practice has shown that his template is the one that is followed by most of the companies who are often taking part in the RFP process.
These sections are listed in the order that is usually followed by the majority of the companies. However, as aforementioned, feel free to play with the summary and customize it to your company and your writing style (and to the needs of the RFP issuer, of course).
The first sentence someone reads is usually the one that will set the tone for the rest of the document. Therefore, if the sentence is written in a catchy way so that it grabs the reader's attention and intrigues him to read more, then the introduction has been written well.
It is important to think about an opening statement that will tickle the buyer's imagination and hook him right away. Make sure that the writing tone is not too casual. After all, you are writing a business document.
This first paragraph will make the reader want to read more and learn more about who you are and how you can solve his problem.
Story About Your Company
Let your inner essay writer come out in this section, as you are free to create a story describing the origins and foundations of the company and the road to success. Here you can talk about when and where the company was founded, by whom, how the company was developing over time.
You can also show where you are today, the results you have managed to accomplish, what goals you have fulfilled, which direction you are headed, etc. There is room for plenty of information you can play around with.
This part is important because it will present you as a company with a tradition, reassure the potential client about your capabilities, and show your ambitions about the future.
Show How Will They Benefit
After you finish writing about your company, you can explain how your previous experience and expertise will create value and provide benefits to the investor. You need to focus on a wider image of the problem.
The most obvious benefit they will receive is that your solution will solve their problem, but it is important to show how this will impact other processes. Show what kind of impact the solution to that specific problem will have on the entire organization.
You can even go further and explain how this will reflect on the situation on the market and the position of the potential client on the market. Make sure not to go into too many details. Just briefly explain the general idea and concept.
Show How You Create Value
At the end of the executive summary, you should stress how you are the one who will provide all the aforementioned benefits and how only you can create such an innovative solution.
The key is to add a twist that will be your competitive advantage - to add something you only can provide on the market or something that can really make you stand out. If the solution you are offering is too generic and can be found somewhere else, you are wasting your time.
Remember that the whole purpose of the executive summary is to convince the potential investors that you are the one and only who will create benefits and provide the perfect solution that will make them strive in the future. If you fail to convince the investor that you are capable of doing that, the chances you will win the bid are meager.
Tendi is the right support if you require a professional and experienced team of marketers, writers, designers that can create the perfect documentation for your bidding process. Book your free consultation today.