Bidding is by nature very competitive, and it is key to stand out.
In this context, there is an essential element to master in order to make the difference: the Executive Summary. In concrete terms, it is about summarizing your offer in a concise and visual way, to facilitate your prospect's decision process.
The Executive Summary is placed at the very beginning of your offer, and summarizes in a few lines and visuals the key takeaways.
It is a very important sales collateral as it is the
first words your prospect will read. Thus, it should encourage them to continue reading the rest, in the best dispositions! It also encourages them to decide whether or not they want to work with you.
In this article, we will study the essential elements that must be included in your Executive Summary. The objective is to succeed in writing this integral part of your response to a call for tenders or commercial proposal.
What is an Executive Summary?
The Executive Summary is a document that summarizes your offer. It is important to keep in mind that it is the first thing your future client reads. This is why its writing is crucial.
It is imperative that the key elements of your offer be included, so as to arouse the interest of your prospects to continue reading.
Understanding the prospect's needs
An Executive Summary is a brief of your understanding of your prospect's needs and issues. Your summary must be centered on the latter and be based on data to convince him.
Rephrasing the key elements is an essential step in the writing process. The idea is to make sure that your summary is perfectly adapted to your prospect.
Before you start writing, it is important to answer the following questions:
- Have you understood all of your prospect's issues?
- Have you understood the company's business?
- Have you understood the context of this call for tenders, the means and constraints of your prospect?
When reading your Executive Summary, your prospect should feel that you have understood his context and his needs as if they were your own.
The key points of the offer
Every response to an invitation to tender is personalized, but the process for its realization remains the same. The same goes for writing the Executive Summary.
You must integrate the key elements of your proposal such as:
- Your assets ;
- Your competitive advantages;
- Numerical data;
- Your solution and its benefits;
- Your solution to the prospect's specific issues;
- Information related to the different stakeholders of the project.
An aid to decision making
The final objective of this writing is to present, in the form of a short and clear document, the answers you will give to your prospect by taking into account his needs.
In addition, the idea is to show the stability of your company to undertake or start the project. It is also a question of proving your seriousness and validating your "ticket" for the oral presentation of the project.
It is important to keep in mind that the reader has a limited amount of time, he will probably not spend more than five minutes on reading this Executive Summary. This is why you have to get to the point in the first few lines to arouse their interest.
How to make your Executive Summary successful?
The Executive Summary is used as a "teaser" of your bid response to convince prospects to work with you.
A high ratio of ideas per word
Succinct does not mean short. It means a high ratio of ideas per word." . "Paul Graham
Writing the Executive Summary can be seen as an exercise that allows you to test the clarity and quality of your proposal.
At first glance, it seems difficult to summarize all the elements of a proposal in two pages at most (ideally one page max.). However, it is an effective way to convey the essence of your proposal.
From the outset, it is important to organize the outline of your offer so that it is clear. It will be easier to write the Executive Summary of an offer that has a clear and structured plan.
Why not write a first draft of your Executive Summary once you have defined your response plan and key arguments, even before writing the whole file?
This will allow you to have a common thread to follow throughout the writing process.
The purpose of your summary is to give your prospect a quick overview of your proposal. In a few lines, it must provide real added value to your prospect to be effective.
In this context, your Executive Summary must contain the key ideas, expressed in strong words that convey the value you can bring to your prospect.
A visual effort
The Executive Summary, like your proposal, must respect your graphic charter in order to remain in the spirit of your company and communicate its identity.
The graphic representation (logo, design, color) directs the image that your prospect will have of you. It indirectly testifies of your seriousness and your credibility. It is therefore essential to pay special attention to it.
In order to impregnate your Executive Summary with the image of your company, you can think about elements such as:
- The positioning of your logo ;
- The use of your font and the colors related to your graphic charter;
- A creative design of the Executive Summary that contrasts with the extensive and rigid side inherent in the bidding process.
A humanizing touch
The human aspect is often neglected in favor of digitalization. In this context, developing this aspect will allow you to differentiate yourself from your competitors.
Indeed, integrating elements such as a handwritten signature or descriptions or photos of the team for example, will reinforce the human link that can be created between your two companies.
You must have the status of an advisor in order to reassure your prospect, argue and value your solution. This position is all the more credible for your prospects if a bond of trust is established.
In addition, by demonstrating relational intelligence, you can build a relationship with your prospects by adapting to their way of working.
What are the benefits of an Executive Summary?
There are many benefits to writing an Executive Summary for business proposals. Here we briefly present them for a better understanding.
A clear and coherent image
As mentioned before, the main characteristic of this document is to be short. In other words, it must be structured, airy and contain only the most important ideas.
In addition, a short document means less reading time. It is a summary that, like the back cover of a book, must be relevant to your future client to encourage him to continue reading.
Finally, the Executive Summary represents the image of your company. It is intended for outsiders who are discovering it for the first time and the first impression is decisive!
A better understanding for your prospect
What your prospect is looking for is a simple and quick understanding of the offer, he must understand from the beginning of his reading what is at stake and how you can respond.
The setting up of the key elements of the offer in the Executive Summary is very important! We will not stop repeating throughout this article that it is essential to reformulate the needs and issues of your prospect.
Remember that your future client receives hundreds of similar documents. Most often, commercial offers are compared to those issued by the competition.
It is therefore important to be simple and concise in your writing. You must be convincing from the first line.
A better conversion rate
In order to show the prospect that you have understood his request, it is key to formulate a clear document that gathers the essential information of the offer.
As soon as you read the Executive Summary, your customer should feel that you have understood him.
In short, optimizing and personalizing your Executive Summary to demonstrate that you have understood your prospect's needs has an impact on the conversion rate.
Indeed, 66% of prospects expect their needs to be understood. Similarly, 74% of customers choose the first company that is able to prove added value. In this context, there is no need to insist that writing a good Executive Summary is essential to close new sales!
Ultimately, your Executive Summary should give the prospect an overview of your proposal and let them know if you have understood their needs and issues.
Moreover, an Executive Summary allows you to start a relationship of trust with your future client. Your document should give them the feeling that:
- you have understood their problems ;
- you have solutions that meet their needs;
- you are competent and ready to meet the challenge.
It's your turn to play!