If you have ever done a business with medium or large business, you certainly know what is RFP. In case of such companies, all major procurements are processed through Request For Proposal (RFP). Invited & interested vendors submit their responses as proposal. Typically initiator company receive ample responses to published RFP.

Processing all those proposals is pretty time consuming activity.

How?

When I talked to procurement managers, I realised their work is highly responsible and demanding. You can’t go wrong in selecting products, services, vendors and the terms of procurement/ servicing.

Purchasing product/service involves rounds of conversations to get correct information, validating that information about vendors/products/services, trialling, managing user acceptance testing (UAT), managing meetings with vendors, negotiations and so on.

They have definite recommendations to share when I asked about what makes a winning sales proposal vs loosing one, what are common sales proposal mistakes

One of the mistakes they noticed about proposals submitted by vendors is, lack of understanding about key aspects

  1. Customer’s business and processes
  2. Challenge faced by customers and solution it is looking for
  3. Amount of information to share
  4. How to summarise proposal for quick screening

We will cover first three points subsequently but let us focus on the last point in this post.

We all know how essential a cover letter and executive summary is for every sales proposal.

You want to make sure that your real first point of contact with the prospective client does not go in vain. Because first impressions make a difference, and your cover letters and executive summaries play a very important role in making your first impression.

Now before we start with proposal cover letter vs executive summary, let’s have a look on the below key questions,

  • What is the customer’s problem?
  • Why is it a problem?
  • What are the results they want?
  • What is the most significant outcome?
  • What solution can we offer?
  • Will that solution work for them?
  • What would be the outcomes of each solution?

These are all the above questions we will need to answer to write an impressive and compelling cover letter and executive summary. Because this is where we can get more closure to the client-centered insights.

Sales Proposal Cover Letter Vs Executive Summary

However, many of you are still unclear about cover letters and executive summaries.

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But hey, I am here for that. In this post, I will help you clear all the doubts about that fine difference.

What Is Proposal Cover Letter?

True or false? You don’t need a cover letter anymore because clients don’t read them. If you said “true” then you are MISTAKEN.

They do read, but only the good ones and immediately get rid of the bad ones.

Let’s talk about that, most of the cover letters stinks.

Wooshhhhh! I know it’s painful and hard to hear. But the truth has been spoken. Why? Because that cover letter contains too much of blah blah blah and a lot of drag drag drag.

The cover letter is about saying something meaningful.

We want the letter to be an integral part of our sales proposal and not just a simple transmission letter. It doesn’t matter how interactive your sales proposal is because no one will have a chance to review it, if you go wrong with a cover letter.

  • It should be believable and client-centric
  • It should create an enthusiastic impression
  • Highlight your key points
  • Strong statement of closure

Now keeping all these things in mind, if your opening line goes like this?

“Thank you for the opportunity………”.

Then there are more possibilities to immediately add this cover letter to that “stinky list”. So let’s try and say something different.

Research: Well for the cover letter do some research and find out more about the client.

Catch The Attention: Once you find out about them and their industry then start the letter directly by catching the attention. There are many ways you can do it like,

  • Start off with a gripping statement.
  • Ask a question related to their business.
  • Give a suggestion.

Just come out of your comfort zone and think about how you can make your opening statement more impactful.

# Opening Paragraph

Dull Example Of An Opening Paragraph:

dull example of proposal cover letter vs executive summary

Eye Catching Example Of An Opening Paragraph:

Time to say Goodbye to MS Word & other design tools. It is a time to make a fresh start and take your proposal process to the next level – more power, more confidence to your sales team.

In our last meeting, we discussed that in an emerging market, impressing clients and closing the deals has become more difficult than ever.

XYZ is such a product and our attached proposal describes the value we can add meeting your expectations.

# Letter Body

Dull Letter Body Example:

XYZ understands your needs and we strive every day to meet the client’s expectations. (So sincere)

We have the most experienced team to deliver a high touch result. We are proud of the work we do.

Convincing Letter Body Example:

As you try to expand in this emerging market, ABC faces issues such as:

  • Dealing with frustrating days of proposal making.
  • Managing Sales Proposal.
  • Difficulties to close the deals.

ABC prospect want to achieve the following objectives:

  • Create phenomenal proposals that make the client say YES!
  • Faster sign off with online signature.
  • Actionable proposal intelligence.

# Close

Dull Close:

Please call us if you have any questions about this proposal.

Positive Close:

The attached proposal will describe to you how Freshproposals will overcome your challenges and help you meet your goals. We appreciate this opportunity.

I will call you on Aug 15 to answer all your queries you might have and discuss the steps of moving forward with you.

What Is Proposal Executive Summary?

You can call an executive summary as a mini proposal. It’s a high-level dialogue to the people who write checks for you. It should be 10% of your narrative.

For example, if your narrative is about 100 pages then your executive summary should be about 10 pages.

Points To Remember To Write An Executive Summary For Executive Buyers

  • They should be convinced that you understand their business,  their challenges, and their vision.
  • They need a clear picture to understand how will you solve their problems.
  • They don’t understand the technical terms and they don’t need to.
  • Without any dragging, they want it to the point

Now let’s understand in detail.

1. Write About Customers’ Environment
  • Show you have done research.
  • Mention all the factors that give a perception that you understand their world.
2. Mention Their Challenges

In the cover letter, we have mentioned a few challenges just as bullet points. But in the executive summary,

  • You get a chance to show them that you understand their concerns, that gives them a comfort level.
  • Don’t solve it; just show that you understand.
  • Keep it short.

For example, although ABC is running smoothly in a highly technical environment. But you have some concerns about the following issues,

a. You are still using MS Word or PDFs to create your sales proposals. You need to know how important is to keep your proposal at the top of your client’s mind.

and so on……

3. Their Vision Is Important To You
  • Show that you see a clear picture.
  • Relate with their short term/ long term goals.

For example, we know how ABC faces challenges to close deals. As your partner, we will work closely with you to meet your short term as well as long term goals.

4. Give Them Solutions
  • Give them solutions and the impact of each solution in 2-3 sentences.
  • Remember don’t get into details just keep it high level, because the details will obviously be in a proposal.
5. Differentiate Yourself

Executive buyers like to know something about vendors. So do include about you, about what makes you different. It’s a nice way to close the executive summary. Always end your executive summary on a high note so that

Final Thoughts:

Please avoid the standard document, method or procedure.

Create a customer-centric cover letter and an executive summary and for that, you really need to do your research.

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