Sales Proposal Executive Summaries: Don°¶t °K Unless

To maximize the best of an Executive Summary: #1: Keep It Short Most Executive Summaries that I have seen defy the definition of a summary. Any summary is a condensed form or brief statement of main points, and that applies ten-fold to Executive Summaries. They must be brief but also provide substantive but not detailed coverage of all the key points covered throughout the proposal. Not only is this likely the only part seniors will read, it gives all decision makers the big picture. An Executive Summary should show your customers how well you understand and are prepared to meet their business needs. It should spur them to want to go further. Ideally, Executive Summaries are two pages maximum. Keep the focus on the customer¡¦s strategic objectives and, in broad strokes, position what you will do to meet each objective. #2: Focus on Your Customer, NOT You It's easy to describe yourself and all your qualifications, but that¡¦s not the way to start your Executive Summary. Instead articulate how you understand the customer¡¦s business needs. Outline the key ways in which you will meet them and then expand on that in the proposal and outline the key ways you will meet them, which you expand on in the proposal. Write your Executive Summary LAST, drawing from all the key sections. In the Executive Summary, help your customers¡¦ think ¡§This salesperson gets us.¡¨ In the process, make sure the customer ¡§gets you¡¨ but only in an overview in the context of solving business problems and achieving objectives. Make sure what you included takes into consideration the customer¡¦s strategic goals and make the connection. Example: We are privileged to be considered as your partner to support you in ______ (identify the customer¡¦s strategic objective). We feel uniquely qualified to partner with _____ (name of prospect/customer) based on our _____ (capability) to _____ (outcome customer wants) ¡X then key objective by key objective, show you get it and are the best one to deliver it. Focus on each of the customer's key objectives and differentiate yourself by tying in your capabilities related to the customer's objectives. #3: Customized, Not Generic Use the customer¡¦s language. Read every word with an eye to tailoring every word, including what you say to describe your organization. If you are working from a boilerplate Executive Summary framework, edit heavily to address with customer objectives, language, priority sequence, and customized benefits. In the final paragraph, summarize Why you and don't hesitate to toot your own horn this is your shot. Then lead into the body of the proposal. #4: Last, Not First While the Executive Summary appears first in the proposal write it last drawing from all key points in the proposal. Prioritize capabilities based on what is important to your customer. Be sure your Executive Summary touches on all key aspects covered in your proposal. The bottom line is an Executive Summary is NOT required unless of course an RFP calls for it. A good one is powerful and will separate you from the pack. If you include an Executive Summary, keep it simple and clear. Stay away from jargon unless all the customers who will be reading it are technical and that¡¦s what they have expressed and want ¡X and even then be sure to include benefits. A good Executive Summary sells. A poor one can cause the customer to move on to the next proposal. It is better not to include an Executive Summary than include one that is not engaging or tailored to the customer. So keep your Executive Summary short and if you want coaching on your next Executive Summary, forward it us at along with one paragraph on the customer's needs. We¡¦ll provide private feedback to the first three salespeople whose Executive Summaries we receive.


Linda Richardson is the Founder and Executive Chairwoman of Richardson, a global sales training and performance improvement company. As a recognized leader in the industry, she has won the coveted Stevie Award for Lifetime Achievement in Sales Excellence and she was identified by Training Industry, Inc. as one of the “Top 20 Most Influential Training Professionals.” Ms. Richardson is credited with the movement to Consultative Selling and is the author of ten books on selling and sal...

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