Writing a Successful RFP Executive Summary

Writing a Successful RFP Executive Summary

A compelling RFP executive summary can help set a proposal apart from the competition. Why is that? Because it’s one of the few parts of the unpredictable, sometimes restrictive RFP process where the proposer can unfurl their full story and strategy for the evaluator. 

Here’s how to use an RFP executive summary to ensure your proposal stands out. Afterward, you can develop the skills to become a perfect RFP writer. So, let’s get started!

Focus Your Story in Your RFP Executive Summary

First, introduce the reviewers to your organization and proposal regarding your experience. Pay 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 make your firm stand out.

Lean into that which makes your organization, company or project perspective unique. Turn any perceived difference into an advantage. For example, smaller firms may offer more personal service, or maybe you have a compelling founding story that resonates with your audience. In the RFP executive summary, you put that advantage on display, in simple terms, for your reviewer to see and remember. 

Not surprisingly, most RFPs inquire about previous experience. So your RFP executive summary can answer questions like: How long has your company or organization developed your techniques? Are you a scrappy newcomer with exciting new advances or a time-tested, 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, no rulebook that states how big or old your firm needs to be. From experience, The Bid Lab can attest that the newer and smaller firms often have the superior products and services required.

When it comes to a winning proposal, it will ultimately come down to which firm can tell its story better and clearer. Fight the urge to detail your company’s timeline from inception to now. Instead, keep your RFP executive summary short and relevant to the proposal.

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Ensure Your RFP Executive Summary Displays Your Advantages 

Put yourself in the evaluator’s shoes and imagine how many proposals they’ll receive for this bid. It could be three, or it could be hundreds. Either way, you don’t have a lot of space in the RFP executive summary to make your case. Best to use it to put your best foot forward and show the reviewer exactly how you’re the top option.

It’s important to list your services and any clients or projects relevant to the proposal. This will help qualify your ability to complete the required tasks. Highlight and emphasize whichever ones make the most sense, depending on the RFP. Knowing how you’ve successfully executed similar projects in the past is a great way to show the evaluator why you should win the contract.

Take a moment here to review the requested services or tasks. How are you presenting yourself? Review any information provided by the potential enterprise or agency. Find relevant details you can sprinkle into the list of services provided. You can even use these details to help pare down extensive lists of past clients and projects. Keep these details and requirements in mind when writing your RFP summary. Bonus: get tips on how to persuade your client by tailoring the narrative to how the buyer benefits from your offering.

This doesn’t mean you should list them all. Yes, perhaps you have a wide range of capabilities and a long list of clients. So, check and support each addition to this document against the needs of the RFP. Help make it easy for the reviewer to confirm your ability to fulfill the requested services by showing them you’re the correct firm to choose. 

Now that you know what they want and what you can do, get rid of anything that’s not relevant. 

Keep Your RFP Executive Summary Simple

Finally, you can wrap it all up with a summary of why you’re the best firm for this project. Restate how you’ve crafted this RFP executive summary to be tailor-made for this proposal. 

First, remind them that you’re the best choice to complete this project by recalling the reasons you detailed in your cover letter and earlier parts of your executive summary. Whether you’re 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 help communicate to the reviewer that you’re knowledgeable and aware of the requirements and your ability to fulfill them. Next, plainly state why you feel you’re the best option. After being reminded of what they need, they’ll 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 narrow the breadth of your RFP executive summary. This will lead to a trim, efficient proposal that will stand out from the stack. Additionally, a well-crafted executive summary template can be used for multiple bids. So, just remember to expand and personalize your RFP executive summary for each individual RFP. 

As an RFP consulting firm, The Bid Lab understands all of the intricacies of the RFP response process. Our Learning Center is filled with everything RFPs. From helping you find the right bid to how to write a perfect response, we can help you out. We even created Bid Banana, the user-friendly RFP search engine! Check out our Learning Center or follow us on social media for the latest and greatest RFP information.

If your business is in need of bid services, schedule a free consultation with us today, or give us a call at 1-844-4BIDLAB. We can help you find, manage or build your next RFP.