RFP Writing: How to Write the Best Executive Summary
The executive summary is arguably the most important element of your RFP response. It tells the reader everything they need to know about the rest of your response:
– That it reflects their needs
– That it provides a great solution
– That its written by an organization with superior skills and expertise to deliver what’s being promised
Simply put, it tells the reader: ‘This could be the answer we are looking for’.
How to write the best RFP executive summary:
1. Start with your understanding of what the issuer is looking for. Any great solution is going to be based on their needs, so make it clear you understand what the issuer’s needs are. On top of establishing the logic for your solution, how well you identify the issuers needs can be a critical differentiator. Not all Requests for Proposal are clearly written and not all issuers fully grasp their own issues. ‘Getting it’ will help you stand out. Finally, focusing on the issuer signals that you are focused on them. Too often, we want to talk about ourselves. Keep in mind, RFP responses aren’t about us.
2. Highlight your solution. Make it logical, easy to understand and thorough. Describe it with one goal in mind – so that the reader concludes “I clearly see how this meets my needs”. The impact here isn’t just informational, it’s another key way of differentiating your response from others that are poorly written, disorganized and unhelpful. Write using clear, precise, descriptive sentences that summarize the critical elements that the reader MUST know. Keep your sentences short and focused so that the reader can easily absorb each key idea.
3. Illuminate your expertise, knowledge and competence. Lots of bidders are in the same business. No two bidders share the same positioning, experience and learning. Your goal? To have the issuer conclude that as an organization you are better positioned and more capable of meeting their needs. Do this by being clear on your positioning, demonstrating mastery of the issues and solutions and sharing additional insight that you know will be of value to the issuer.
A final key point on writing a great executive summary – write it at the end, once all the other work has been completed on the response. That way you will have access to all the thinking that’s been done on preparing the Request for Proposal – thinking on the issuer, their needs and your solution.
Working with a great RFP response, it is easy to write a great executive summary.
Karen McElroy is the CEO of Boardroom Metrics. She leads an experienced team of business writers across Canada and the United States. Dedicated to helping clients win competitive RFP, RFI and Proposal bids, Karen is known for her unfailing responsiveness, lively personality and wealth of RFP, RFI, RFx writing experience. Karen says “Taking the stress out of the RFP response process allows our clients to focus on what they do best. Our expertise is making our clients look great.”