Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Sales Proposal Executive Summaries: Don’t … Unless
Your proposal can make or break your sale. It can get you in to see the customer or keep you out. When you do include an Executive Summary in a proposal, it’s the first thing most customers read. More importantly, it may be the only thing executives/key decision-makers read at all. Executive Summaries establish that all-important first impression. They can draw customers in — or turn them away. Unfortunately, many Executive Summaries are neither a summary nor executive. 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.
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) — 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.
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