You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression

Proposals are like presentations - they need to be engaging. And it starts with your Executive Summary. You need to draft a compelling Executive Summary so that the Assessor wants to read more.

You’ve put blood, sweat and tears into that tender response or proposal. It’s cost time and effort, time that could have been expended on other money-making activities. But you know your response is important. It could lead you into a new market, or cement your position in an existing one.

Your response is not a tick-the-box test; it’s a race. And as in any race, there can only be one winner. While many of your competitors may respond to a tender, only one business will win the contract. You can waste weeks, months or even years responding to tenders, without any guarantee of success.

What is an Executive Summary and Why it is Important?

The opening section of your response is usually the Executive Summary. It summarises the key elements of your response the Assessor reads before getting down to the detail. You need to condense how your understanding of their requirement, the problem they’re trying to solve, your value proposition, briefly describe how you are going to deliver the solution, and why they can be assured you will.

It lets the Assessors know upfront you clearly understand what the outcome they are seeking and tells them where they can find the information that meets the Assessment Criteria.

Simplifying the complex issues you deal with in more detail in your response is no easy task. But, it’s definitely beneficial for the Assessor (and you) when you can do it and do it well.

A good proposal is about the prospect, not you.

What should go into your Executive Summary?

By the time the Assessor has read your Executive Summary you want him to already have a tick in his mind. Your Executive Summary should be persuasive and make a compelling case for the contract to be awarded to you.

Open with your understanding of the requirement and what the prospect is seeking to achieve. That means more than just restating the title of the tender, or its Scope of Work. Demonstrate your understanding of why the requirement is there, and the difficulties or challenges the prospect may have.

So make the effort up front to understand their needs and challenges. That means research.

Follow with your Value Proposition. This is like an Elevator Pitch. In 1–2 concise sentences, make a powerful solution statement that expresses how your solution will more than meet their objectives, and add value. Focus on results, using language that is specific and measurable.

Summarise your solution, and why your solution will meet the requirements. But go beyond just meeting their requirement. Demonstrate they will get real value they wouldn’t get elsewhere,

Next you summarise HOW your solution will address the prospects needs and challenges. Highlight key features of your approach. Acknowledge any perceived weaknesses and how these will be addressed. Indicate where these are addressed in the body of your response.

In one paragraph, briefly summarise your relevant experience – provide specific, evidence-based examples and reference contracts of a similar nature, scope and size. Demonstrate that you’ve exceeded expectations in these contracts.
It's not just the experience. It is the skills, quality management, environmental management, contract management, project management, people and equipment to do the job efficiently and effectively. Choose you, and they won't embarrass themselves.

Now to validate why you are the only logical choice. Identify the key benefits your solution provides. The key here is to identify the key “features” in your solution, and importantly, what this will do for them – the “benefit”.

Example: Identify Feature A – “this means that (benefit)” and tell them how that meets the need or challenge.

Summarise your Value Proposition again and issue a Call to Action; propose a meeting to make a presentation, or if appropriate, a visit to your premises.

One last point – length. This is the lead into the response. You don’t want the Assessor to be wading through pages and pages. They’ll have enough of that when they get into the detail. Write tightly and restrict your Executive Summary to no more than two pages.

A persuasive and compelling Executive Summary will enhance your chances, not blow them. Make a good first impression; don’t leave yourself scrambling to make up lost ground.

Would you like to tell me about your tendering experience?

It will come as no surprise to you that I’m working on a new online course to help people win more tenders. My course will help you learn how to submit well presented, persuasive responses so that you win more tenders, without stress or feeling under pressure.

You will discover responding to tenders is no longer a complex, unclear burden, nor costly and demanding. You will learn how to prepare for, analyse and persuasively respond to tender requirements. Winning more tenders will take the stress out of your life.

The course will be around 8 weeks, with a new module each week delivered on-line, followed by a face-to-face webinar towards the end of each week to discuss participants’ questions and learnings from each module. Participants will build their skills step by step, reinforcing their learning.

We’ll be doing practical exercises based on your real-life experience with tender responses, identifying and working on the opportunities for improvement. Activities will be based on a Case Study. Where possible, participants will be asked to utilise an unsuccessful tender they have submitted. For those who have not yet submitted a tender, I will supply a real RFT, with some appropriate alterations.

But I would like to draw on your real-life experience in designing the course. If you would be happy to have a chat about it, send me an email with “Discuss TenderWins” in the subject line, and I’ll set up a telephone or Skype call. If I can’t help, I will suggest someone who can.