How to Write a Business Proposal With a Killer Executive Summary

Jack Prot

Getting the structure of an Executive Summary right is as vital as getting the content right.

Just like the structure of your proposal, it needs to make sense. It also needs to demonstrate your understanding of the client’s needs, a viable solution and your ability to deliver it with value. It needs to be digestible enough for someone to understand it in only a couple of pages or so. So keep it short and to the point. Here are some tips to help you create Killer Executive Summaries.

Here is our Executive Summary structure:

The client’s name. Make the opening words of your Executive Summary your client’s name. Like the entire proposal the Executive Summary should be about the client, not about you so don’t go on right at the beginning about your suitability for the job. Make sure their name appears more often than yours throughout – some guidelines make a recommendation of a 3:1 ratio.

Summary of the customer’s goal and business need. Don’t just re-hash the information from the RFP. Use the knowledge that you have garnered from the Account Managers relationship with the client and other information from your existing sales process. Demonstrate your understanding of their business drivers for the procurement and the implications to the client if they do nothing.

The ideal situation. What would be the client’s ideal situation if they solved their problem? What benefits do they expect? Don’t waste too much space on this – but demonstrate your knowledge of their desired outcomes and goals, focusing on the top three things that are their priorities and drivers.

How your solution solves their problem. What will you deliver to alleviate their business problem and help them achieve their goals? Make sure you use this section to present win themes – elements that make the client think you are uniquely capable of delivering this contract – that directly correlate to the client’s top priorities and drivers. You need to include all the key parts of your proposed solution here.

Why you? Provide information on your organisational strengths, your unique offering and how these benefit the client. Use just one example if possible (there can be more in the actual proposal) and remember to make a statement, emphasise the benefit to the client and then back it up with evidence.

Summary of timescales, costs and return on investment. This is where you can emphasise the value of your solution. Don’t just list numbers – give top level numbers and show that you can offer exceptional value in a realistic timeframe.

Call to action. If your proposal is the last stage in the sales process, ask for the business. If it’s not, then state your desire to move forward to the next stage (e.g. proof of concept or fact finding consultancy)

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