Bid writing

Writing an epic executive summary

We’re bored of being bored by boring Executive Summaries. Bored.

We’ve lost count of drafts we receive with an opening line of: “we’re really pleased to have been invited to tender for this prestigious . . .something something commitment, blah blah” Yawn.

When it comes to executive summaries and bids in general remember  – clients do not care about you. They care about what you are going to do for them – what value are you going to create for them?

We’re also tired of being brought in towards the end of bids and teams are struggling to write a compelling executive summary. Your bid leader should be able to draft at least a decent draft executive summary based on the outcomes of your strategy session right at the start of the process.  If they can’t, why are you bidding for it?

Anyway. Grumble over. Instead, follow these top tips – be epic:

Order it for the client, not your ego – talk about them first

When you see a big group shot of a wedding you attended, what’s the first thing you look for? That’s right, yourself. Clients want to hear about themselves and to know that you get them. They want to know that you understand what they need, what their concerns are and how it needs to be tackled. Talk about the client first. Let them you know that you get their issues. Give them an introduction centered around your understanding – talking about their situation and needs, and why it’s important to them.

Make an impact

Then, once you have demonstrated that you understand their situation, the challenge and what is required – hit them with an ‘Impact statement’. This is a high-level strategic statement that demonstrates how you are going to solve their issues and the value you will deliver. It needs to be short, two or three lines at most. It’s a headline that should grab their attention, like in a newspaper. Preferably it should come in the first person from your delivery lead, the accountable person they will work with day to day.

Land your value proposition

Now unpack a bit more of how you are going to deliver value of that impact. Provide three headlines with associated details of your proposition.  This is the core of your exec sum, the value proposition made up of your win themes.  These should be the three big messages that the client remembers about your bid.

Don’t just talk about how much your service will cost, but walk them through the value. Sure, talk about your team, but focus on how their experience de-risks the project or speeds up mobilisation. Talk outcomes.

Bring the boom!

If you’ve got an impressive USP that sets your delivery apart from the rest, now is the time to tell them about it. Wow them with something they will find interesting and that they will remember.

Put your big guns last

And finally – do the ‘big guns’ bit. Provide a statement from your sponsor for the tender, a senior executive who will ultimately be responsible. This is where the commitment “blah blah” bit should go. Last.

Test it with the client?

Lastly, can you test any of it with the client before submission?  Can you at least double check that your proposition resonates with them? Ideally this should take place early on in the bid process to enable change and to provide confidence. You should ask yourself – if you don’t have a relationship where you can phone someone up at the client and test ideas with them, does somebody else?