Any successful and well-structured business proposal or business plan should include an executive summary. This section, typically found at the beginning of the proposal, can take many forms, lengths, and writing styles. An executive summary is, by it’s very nature, a summarization of information. Serving as an introduction to a proposal, the executive summary often contains brief statements describing what will be further detailed within the coming proposal. In an average proposal, the executive summary only offers short information in a rote manner. But an outstanding executive summary presents a roundup of the entire proposal in a way which engages the client and works to SELL.
There are a few key elements that go into the crafting of an intelligent, extraordinary executive summary for a proposal. Here are 5 elements that should be included by any keen business person plus our free executive summary template to help you out!
1. A Shining Intro Paragraph
According to a multitude of internet sources, there is a specific length to which an executive summary should adhere. This is not the case. While an executive summary should not be overly lengthy, it should be a comprehensive statement of the overall proposal.
The executive summary must have a brilliant introductory paragraph. If potential clients only skim your proposal, you want to make sure the first thing they are likely to read is the strongest part of your entire proposal. This intro paragraph should be attention getting from the start. It is wise to bring in impressive attributes of your company, but be specific as opposed to general. Potential clients will want to see real evidence of demonstrated skills and unique abilities. Use this section to highlight company or employee accolades.
The purpose any proposal, and by extension executive summary, is to sell. Give a quick punch, making a confident sell to the client. This is done by providing a unique approach to the problem/issue/need at hand.
2. A Thoughtful Aim to the Audience
As you wow your reader with an exciting sell and dramatic intro, you’ll want to think about gearing the proposal and the executive summary specifically to your audience. Even when using a template, a proposal should be tailored for each client’s unique needs and problem.
The executive summary is an ideal place to start aiming thoughtfully at your key audience. Here you can further identify the issue facing the client--such as a need for a new marketing strategy, loss of sales, importance of a redesigned website, etc. Once this problem has been identified, offer well-researched, substantiated information about this problem. Facts, figures, and relevant details are important to the client, and will help set you up as an expert who knows a great deal about their company’s specific issues.
After the problem has been named, continue the company-focused aim by showing the ways in which your proposed solution will be a success. An excellent method is to present facts of concerning issues, followed quickly by practical yet unique solutions that are designed particularly for the client.
3. An Identifiable Goal
It is vital that a potential client see just what it is you and your company can do for them. While solutions and methods are a key part of your executive summary and the proposal in general, what matters most to clients is what the results of these solutions will be. Demonstrate to your client what great returns they will get from your proposal. Again, citing figures generated from strong, client-specific research is the key to success here.
Don’t be too general when offering up solutions and results, however. Simply telling your client that your methods will “increase sales” is not good enough. Utilize market research and projections as well as examples of past success, and give descriptive and attractive probable outcomes. Clients love to see what gains your work will bring them, and thorough research is so important in exploring and determining what these gains will be.
4. An Avoidance of Sweeping Generalizations or False Information
An easy trap to fall into when creating an executive summary, or any part of a proposal, is to speak with sweeping generalizations or cliched statements. This should absolutely be avoided as these repetitive and oft-heard ideas have the effect of lumping you alongside your sub-par competitors. Standing out involves offering unique and valuable information to your client. Honest appraisals and truthful promises are what sell, not overused, recycled ideas and hollow claims.
It is important to review your executive summary--and your complete business proposal--repeatedly, rewriting and polishing to come up with a creative, professional piece of work that you will be proud and excited to share with potential clients.
5. Attention to Detail
Following closely on that last element, attention to detail is paramount throughout the entire executive summary. Nothing ruins the hard work on a proposal more than sloppy attention to detail. Silly mistakes can and must be avoided. Your goal is to be the most successful company to submit a proposal to your potential client. Even the playing field by checking and rechecking for any errors. This is a basic element for success. Once this is in place, you can add the elements above to go above and beyond, and hopefully land that next business deal.
6. Use a Template to get it done more quickly!
PandaDoc offers you many, many free business templates created by our trusty team of successful accountants, lawyers, and small business owners who use these documents every day. What kind of templates can help you with how to write an executive summary?
- Executive Summary Template
- A sample Business Plan Template or one of our industry-specific Business Plan templates, including a startup business plan template, a hotel business plan template, a salon business plan template, and quite a few more
- A sample Sales Proposal Template or one of our industry-specific Business Proposal templates, including an advertising proposal template, a market research proposal template, a graphic design proposal template, a security proposal template and dozens more!
Or you can go ahead and create your own templates to reuse, send online and track easily!
These elements cannot be ignored if you’re looking to craft a proposal that is superior to others’. If you put into practice the above principles, your clients will be thrilled with the comprehensive, professional, uniquely adapted proposals you have to offer.
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