How to Write an Executive Summary for an RFP Response

RFP responseFor procurement professionals, getting into the details is part of the job. But they aren’t looking for your product diagrams right off the bat. Don’t overlook the executive summary in your RFP response.

If you’re unsure about your RFP response, you’re not alone. Much like a job application, you don’t know how it’ll be received on the other end. But like a resume, there are smart methods that can get you through the door more easily than you think.

The first thing potential clients read is your executive summary. Yet that’s where most B2B sales teams fall short. They actually disappoint their readers before they even get started.

You need an executive summary that stands out from the rest of your content. You will figuratively get into a seat in their boardroom where they’re discussing long-term goals. Then, you will show them how your company can become a part of that.

4 Tips on Creating an Executive Summary of Your RFP Response

You know you’re an expert on your product or service details. Show potential clients you’re an expert on them as well. The following four tips will help you communicate the benefits and long-term value of your partnership.

1. Don’t Summarize the Proposal

This is a classic mistake among sales teams who take the word ‘summary’ literally. Your executive summary should make a business case that plays on high-level details. That means hitting business goals, improving the bottom line, and driving efficiencies for your clients.

Another common mistake is ‘getting it over with.’ Haste will send bad messages about your long-term value as a partner. Both parties place value on the details, but your recipient wants value in the first few lines of text.

2. Pull from Communications They’ve Already Sent

If you received an RFI, start there for ideas. The prospect may be technical in the request. You should still be able to infer some line-of-business pain points or goals you can address.

You can also adopt a language style similar to prospects in this way. If they use alternate terms to what you’re used to, adopt their terms. These are subtle ways to remove friction at the start of your conversation.

3. Outline Your Purpose and Value

You have very few lines to convey high-level, high-value information. You should use natural language to provide that in the summary. But you should also focus on setting the tone for the rest of the document.

What do you want your readers to think about as they’re reading your response? Your executive summary should precede the content in a way that brings out the greater value in every detail. Start by thinking about the value you yourself find in what you’re selling.

4. Clearly Identify Expected Outcomes

Assume your summary is giving prospects good feelings about your company. But what information will they take back to the boardroom?

End your executive summary by detailing the very specific benefits of a partnership. These can be in bullets and should include clear KPIs. “20% revenue growth” or “45% less downtime” come to mind.

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