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5 tips for writing an effective Executive Summary

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Kristine Daw is the Managing Director of Dawtek, a Melbourne-based company specialising in tenders and proposals, tender training, copywriting, editing and creating business templates. Kristine and her small team have a range of clients including small businesses, multi-national corporations, all levels of government and not-for-profits.

1300 DAWTEK or dawtek.com.au

After over 15 years in the industry, I’ve seen a lot of things in the tender space. One pattern that tends to pop-up again and again is that often, people treat the Executive Summary of their tender bid as an afterthought. Something that can be drafted really quickly once they’ve spent the majority of their time working on the proposal.

Here’s the problem with that way of working: the Executive Summary is often the most important part of your tender bid. Why? While I’d love to tell you that your entire tender proposal is going to be read in full every single time, it’s just not the reality. Often, the tender panel has hundreds or even thousands of bids to get through within a certain timeframe, which means they may only have the time to read through your Executive Summary.

Of course, after spending so much time on your submission, this situation is hardly ideal. However, if we shift our thinking and focus on some key tips, we can ensure that your Executive Summary reflects your quality proposal and increases the chances of your tender being read in full. Here are my five top tips.

#1: Keep the Executive Summary to two pages (maximum)

As its name suggests, a summary is intended to provide an effective but concise snapshot of your tender bid. Every case is different but generally speaking, it should address the current situation, comment briefly on why change is well overdue, present your organisation’s solution, brief information about your company (one or two lines) and so on. It can be incredibly difficult to get your Summary down to two pages but it’s important to do so – as I like to say, the delete button is often your best friend!

#2: Don’t introduce any new information

Going back to my first tip, your Executive Summary should never introduce any new or unrelated information that isn’t then included in your proposal. If a piece of information belongs in your Executive Summary, it also belongs in your tender bid – don’t waste your word count on anything that isn’t going to help your company to win the bid.

#3: The Executive Summary should never be about you and your business

Here’s the thing, a tender bid is really about what problem you can address and solve. It’s not about you as a leader or business owner or even your business. While a brief line or two in the Executive Summary may be appropriate, structuring the entire document around you/your business is never ideal. Why? It’s nothing personal but the tender panel aren’t appointed to judge you or your business – they’re after the best possible solution to the problem in question. So in your Executive Summary, provide information that entices them to read your tender proposal instead of content they’re likely to be able to Google.

#4: Always make the client the focus

As we’ve established already, you’ve got two pages to work with and it’s vital that your Executive Summary focuses on the client’s needs. It should clearly detail your offer and the value that it stands to promise for your client. In other words, avoid talking about you/your business – ensure the client is front and centre.

#5: Pave the way for a partnership approach

Sometimes, a tender panel may conclude that by allowing two or more businesses to combine their abilities, they’ll deliver a better solution and end result. So in the Executive Summary, always be open to partnering with other like-minded business you can work with to deliver the best end result for the client. Remember, the client’s needs always come first.

Although a good Executive Summary is only two pages long, it can become quite a time-consuming piece of content to work on. As always, if you’re looking for guidance in relation to all things tenders, get in touch and let’s discuss how I can help you to win more work and maximise your profits.

If you haven’t already and would like to join a supportive online tender community, take a look at our Tender Hub. Via our closed Facebook group, you’ll have access to numerous tender resources, lots of information and have the opportunity to connect with like-minded people.