Writing a Successful RFP Executive Summary
Crafting a compelling RFP executive summary can help set a proposal apart from the competition. The executive summary is one of the few parts of the unpredictable and sometimes restrictive RFP process where the proposer can unfurl both their story and strategy in full view for the evaluator.
Here is how to take full advantage of this moment to ensure your proposal stands out.
Learning the craft of RFP writing doesn’t happen overnight. Find out what skills it takes to make a perfect RFP writer.
1) Focus Your Story
First, introduce the reviewers to your organization and proposal in terms of your experience, paying special attention to how you can fulfill their requested tasks.
You don’t have to write this part from scratch. Take your cues for the RFP executive summary from any mission statements, press releases or website information for your organization or company. Highlight any characteristics here that makes your firm stand out from any others, whether it is minority or woman-owned or in possession of cutting-edge environmental certificates.
Lean into that which makes your organization, company, or project perspective unique. Turn any perceived difference into an advantage. Smaller firms may offer more personal service, or maybe you have a compelling founding story that resonates with your audience.. Here is where you put that advantage on display, in simple terms, for your reviewer to see and remember.
Not surprisingly, most RFPs inquire about experience. How long has your company or organization developed your techniques? Are you a scrappy newcomer with exciting new advances or a time-tested and guaranteed solutions-oriented firm? Whether you have decades of experience or are an entering freshman in the federal contracting arena, as long as you qualify for the RFP’s base needs, there is no rulebook that states how big or old your firm needs to be.
From experience, The Bid Lab can attest that it is oftentimes the newer and smaller firms that have the superior products and services required. ✨
When it comes to a winning proposal, it will ultimately come down to which firm can tell their story better, clearer. Fight the urge to detail a timeline of your company from inception to now. Instead, keep it short and relevant to the proposal at hand.
2) Display Your Advantages
Put yourself in the evaluators shoes and imagine how many proposals they will receive for this bid. It could be three, or it could be hundreds. Either way, you don’t have a lot of space to make your case. Best to use this limited space to put your best foot forward and show the reviewer exactly how you are the best option
Some important things to note, list your services and any clients you may have had that either relate to the project at hand, are mentioned at any point in the ensuing proposal, or help qualify your ability to complete the required tasks. Highlight and emphasize whichever ones make the most sense depending on the RFP. This is oftentimes the proof in your pudding. Speaking to how you’ve successfully executed projects of similar nature in the past is a great way to show the evaluator why you’re best placed to win the contract. .
As always, in pretty much any of the steps, you can take a moment here to review the requested services or tasks, in order to orient how you are going to present yourself. Review any and all information provided by the potential enterprise or agency.. They usually include extremely relevant details you can sprinkle into the list of services provided or to pare down your extensive lists of past clients and projects. Any background information you can add to show that you are very well-informed about the scope and its associated deliverables always helps.
Get tips on how to persuade your client by tailoring the narrative to how the buyer benefits from your offering.
Keep these details and requirements in mind when you list and explain your services and skills. This does not mean you should list them all. Yes, perhaps you have a wide range of capabilities, but are all of them necessary to list out for this project? Check and support each addition to this document against the needs of the RFP. List out all the services required in the RFP and then any other you think might help you stand out from the crowd of other proposals.
For your list of clients, it is important that any examples used, whether certain favorite projects or not, relate in some way back to the requirements of the RFP. You only have the attention of the reviewer for a short time, so it is wise to address their needs exactly, clearly and completely. Use examples that either mirror the needs of the RFP or display your ability to fulfill them. Make it easy on the reviewer to confirm that you are the correct firm to choose.
Now that you have a good idea of what they want, and what you can do to meet it, now is the time to get rid of anything that is not absolutely relevant.
3) Keep It Simple
Finally, you can wrap it all up with a summary of why you are the best firm for this project, or to be exactly to the point, restate how you have crafted this executive summary to be tailor-made for this proposal.
First, remind them that you are the best choice to complete this project by reminding them of the reasons you detailed in your cover letter and earlier parts of your executive summary. Whether you are an experienced and knowledgeable option or the scrappy upstart, summarize those qualifications quickly, and refer back to how they accomplish the objective of the proposal.
Then, outline how you stand apart from the rest of their options. Review their RFP requirements and address them explicitly, even word for word if necessary. Clarity of purpose and intent will only help to better communicate to the reviewer that you are knowledgeable and aware of the requirements and your ability to fulfill them. Next, plainly state why you feel you are the best option. After being reminded of what they need, they will see your expertise and skills as the answer.
More than anything else, let clarity guide your statements. Could a sentence do where a paragraph overstates? When you read your statement, is it lively and interesting or repetitive and boring? Keeping in mind the attention span and workload of the reviewer helps to narrow the breadth of your RFP executive summary, leading to a trim, efficient proposal that will stand out from the stack.
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