The first page is important, because either it leads the reader into the story or it makes him close the book and put it aside. A writer I know told me he did not mind spending ten days on a first page. I would be blind on it in ten days, but I have done three versions in one day, and if I am still discontent, I go to page two with an idea of looking at the first page again the next day.”
First impressions last, so like Patricia Highsmith, make sure you make a good one. If there’s anything to take from her quote, it’s the importance of the first page in selling your work.
- Patricia Highsmith
(Author, The Talented Mr. Ripley”, “Strangers on a Train.”)
Most organisations make a mess of writing the executive summary. It is easily the most important piece of writing in any sales proposal. It’s your chance to quickly show the client that you understand their needs, how you are going to address them, and why you are the right organisation to do so.
It may also be the only chance you get to tell a cohesive story about your solution, as the format of a request for proposal may be poorly assembled, leaving no opportunity for a clear explanation.
Use the Executive Summary to Sell
So, use your executive summary to sell your services. Don’t clogg it up with rubbish about your company history, how brilliant your executives are and how happy you are to do business with the buying organisation. The buyer doesn’t care about you, your heritage and your spanking new offices. They only care about what you can do for them.
It may also be the only piece of the document that a buying CEO and his executive team read. If they like what they see, they’ll take a keen interest in your progress – they may even make it known which response they favour to the assessment team. In fact, some buyers will use the executive summary as a quick way of screening the proposals they receive for an opportunity. It’s worth getting right.