The executive summary is the ‘sales pitch’ of your document. It is an opportunity to showcase your solution in an unbridled manner and provides a beneficial introduction to the schedules within the tender document. Writing a strategic and compelling executive summary is your key to winning your tender!
As most tender submissions require the bidders to use a fairly repetitive (and often uninspiring) response template, the executive summary can often be awarded a great deal of flexibility. This flexibility comes in the form of no restriction on page limits, creative control around branding and imagery, and how the document is presented.
What is an Executive Summary for?
The executive summary has two functions – the first appeases and excites the client and the second acts as a guide for the document’s internal contributors. A well-developed executive summary can be the highlight of your submission. It may come as a surprise, but often the executive summary is the greatest determinant in your pitch, and the part of your submission most likely to be read by key decision makers. The reason being, the executive summary is the most digestible and conceptually savvy part of your submission; offering messages that all readers can grasp and relate to in an immediate sense.
Moving forward, let’s look at the executive summary from both sides of the fence – the client side and the bidder’s side.
How the Executive Summary is Viewed
The client views the executive summary as:
- The most cohesive section of the entire tender response
- somewhere they can quickly and concisely read about the solution to their ‘need’
- The synopsis for the tender solution
- A place to differentiate the competition.
The bidder views the executive summary as:
- A tool obtain management commitment and to inspire and energise the tender team
- The means to communicate the tender strategy to the subject matter experts/stakeholders
- The driver of the overall tender development to keep everyone on track
- The model standard and framework for the final response document.
Before or After: When Should the Executive Summary be Written
Now that we have a better idea of the benefits of the executive summary, let’s look at where to start; before the tender process has begun or after the tender is completed? This is a divisive topic! We advise that you start with the executive summary – after all, this can be altered and improved as the solution you’re pitching is developed and ironed-out. With this in mind, the reason for writing the executive summary first is to force you to articulate your rationale and develop the elements of persuasion from the strategy or kick-off workshop. This approach provides you with a strong foundation to translate this rationale through to the rest of the proposal and enables you to achieve a fully integrated submission.
From an internal perspective, preparing an executive summary first-up and identifying the persuasive elements of the proposal, aids in how the rest of the submission is prepared. It creates clarity amongst the submission team and aligns everyone who can formulate their response with the client in mind. A problem that we encounter quite often in reviewing client’s past tenders, is that there is an obvious misalignment of goals. This can happen quite easily in a submission as there are often multiple SMEs submitting their sections with their own interests in mind.
Now that we’ve established both the function of the executive summary and when to start preparing it, let’s look at what to avoid…
What to be Conscious of When Preparing the Executive Summary
Firstly, when writing and preparing the executive summary it is important to remind yourself that this is a sales pitch, not the sales document. So here are some tips to help you:
- Avoid providing too much detail in the executive summary; you will have plenty of time to dig down into the details in the body of the document.
- Avoid using different terms in the executive summary from those in the tender. Moreover, ensure that there is a high-level of consistency- this is also important to remember overall.
- Make sure you mention the client more than you mention yourself. After all, the client is the one with the ‘need’ and it’s your chance to write to this pain-point and explain what their optimal solution will be (i.e. be empathetic with them, share their pain, their goals and suggest that a successful outcome will be mutually rewarding).
- Avoid discussing pricing or technical details.
- Comparatively, ensure that you aren’t introducing any points that aren’t mentioned in the body of the bid.
For advice on how to SELL your solution to the evaluation panel, click HERE
We could go on and on about executive summaries, their benefits, the pitfalls and how to structure the perfect preface to your submission. To stay ahead of your competition, be sure to keep posted for our next blog ‘Preparing a Persuasive Executive Summary’ with Megan O’Neill. In the meantime, we recommend reading our popular blog ‘Benchmarking Your Bids’.
For help on your next tender, contact one of our experts on 07 3211 4299, or head to the Contact Us page.