We’ve all watched enough TV talent search shows to know that when you audition you need to stand out from the pack – and a tender is an audition for your business.
Furthermore, a tender’s executive summary outlines its key points – it’s how you make your first impression.
But it should go beyond that, to show that you can not only meet the brief, but add value to the project.
Here are some tips for writing a great executive summary.
Standing out from the crowd
The first tip for writing an executive summary is to never begin with:
We are pleased to submit our proposal for…”
Sentences like this have a soporific effect on tender review panels. It’s like starting out by saying, “we didn’t put much thought into this one, but here goes anyway…”
At the same time, you don’t want to be contentious or introduce material that isn’t relevant to your case. For example, if you are bidding for a rail maintenance contract you would not begin with:
“A train crashed in Melbourne last week, proving that maintenance is vital to rail safety – and we can deliver the best services in the state.”
Firstly, it suggests a link between maintenance and safety that has not (at time of writing) been ascertained. Secondly, it leverages off an industry tragedy to make a selling point.
Instead, you might begin by mirroring the client’s vision. If there’s a clear emphasis on safety and risk, you might begin with:
“Worldwide, maintenance deficiencies are estimated to be involved in approximately 12% of major ail accidents and 50% of engine-related delays and service cancellations. Our vision is aligned with yours – to make rail safety part of our brand.”
It makes an important point about maintenance without sensationalising the topic, and creates an immediate link between the client and the bidder.
Structuring your summary
An executive summary should look at what the client requires from the contractor and address that need.
It should include:
- A statement of the client’s needs and objectives and the link between your organisation and theirs.
- How your business is going to provide the solution such as the equipment you own, the networks to which you have access and the calibre of your staff.
- Why your business is going to value-add to the client’s objectives – a better environmental record, industry-recognised high standards, why you are the best organisation for the job.
- Proof that you are ready to hit the ground running – set out what will happen when you are awarded the contract and show you have processes ready to implement.
It’s a good idea to write the executive summary twice – once before you write the tender, which can be used as a road map for the entire document, and a second, revised version that takes incorporates changes made in the document during research and writing.
Your executive summary acts as a summary, a content guide and an introduction. It’s a demonstration, in writing, of the type of company you are, whether that’s an innovative thought leader or one lacking focus and innovation.