Wait, don’t start writing it yet! The first thing you should know about writing an executive summary, is not to start writing it until you have a solid understanding of what solution you are providing for your prospective client. The purpose of an executive summary is to convince your prospective customer in 1-3 pages, that he or she needs to buy your solution, so it’s actually not a summary. As Tom Sant says in his book, Persuasive Business Proposals, “The executive summary is the single most important part of your proposal. Its’ the only part that’s likely to be read by everybody involved in making a decision.”
What should go in an executive summary?
1. A summary of the problem.
What is the problem you are trying to solve for your client? What is your client concerned about? What is keeping them up at night? The main pain point for your client must be woven into the narrative of the executive summary.
- “We understand the challenges of creating and maintaining 50 independent websites…”
- “Our first priority is to keep your students safe while we are constructing the new 250,000 SF facility..”
- “After our initial analysis, we see that your company is losing approximately $2 million a year due to…”
2. Your solution.
Present your solution as simple as possible and avoid jargon or acronyms unless these are commonly understood by your reader.
- “Our solution will grow sales by more than 50%…”
- “Our solution will offer you the flexibility you seek for a price that is 25% less than…”
- “We can help your firm reduce waste by 25% by…”
3. The benefits of your solution.
Help your potential client understand why your solution is better than your competitors. Elaborate on 3-5 of the benefits your solution provides and present concise evidence on how each benefit eliminates a pain point for your customer.
4. Ask for the sale.
It is important that your potential client knows how important this opportunity is to you and your company. Depending on the type of client, you may want to interject an emotional appeal as to why you are passionate about your prospective client’s project.
There are several schools of thought on how to write a great executive summary, but the best executive summaries usually start on a white board with your team outlining why your solution is the best for your potential client. Write the executive summary first and then make sure the rest of your proposal and RFP response clearly articulates and demonstrates why your solution is the best fit for your client.