An executive summary has basically nothing to do with product presentation, and everything to do with a persuasive sales pitch. It is far more than an abstract which merely presents the rest of the document—it's your unique opportunity to convince the reader that your solution provides the best value proposition: the best benefit at the lowest cost.
The more technical your proposal, the more important the executive summary is likely to be. Unlike the abstract, the executive summary steers clear of technicalities to instead concentrate on substantiating the benefits for the customer.
How to Write an Executive Summary
Executive Summary First
By writing your executive summary first, you ensure that the rest of your proposal will be aligned with the persuasive message you want to deliver.
Executive Summary Content
Your executive summary should contain your value proposition, which should be grasped right away by your reader. Read the discussion How to write an Executive Summary to help you identify the necessary information for laying down your value proposition through the use of “win themes.”
It is highly recommended that you read the suggestions below in order to properly and successfully use the executive summary template and sample.
1. Identify 3 main benefits—no more, no less—that your executive summary will cover, putting them in descending order of importance. This is the way they will appear in your document body, since you want to grab the reader's attention as early as possible.
2. For each benefit, write a simple, declarative, and persuasive sentence by applying the S.P.A. rule for your value proposition:
a. State your benefit by acknowledging your customers’ needs—this grabs their attention. b. Prove your statement, by giving your customers several references (examples of past performance, clients, case studies, white papers, and so on). c. Apply your benefit to your customers, by unveiling the real value that not only the customer but also the entire organization can get out of your offer. Use representation (numbers, facts, percentages, references, studies) instead of marketing puffery or commercial fluff.
You will build credibility, thus giving the confidence to your customer to make the right decision.
3. Ask your customer for action. It's not the time or place to be shy. You're here to have your offer selected, so use action verbs in your value proposition to show the path of enlightenment to your customer. For instance, recommend your product or services, and give the information necessary to complete the action (who, what, when, where, how), such as how to purchase, or whom to contact at your company.
4. Write your executive summary for best readability, meaning the lowest grade level possible. This way, you ensure that no barrier hampers your reader’s full understanding of your point.
5. Correct, edit, and revise your executive summary—but only when you're finished writing it.
6. Since things sometimes get a little more complicated than you might expect, remember to consult a lawyer for further information before considering your executive summary as definitive.
Abstract vs. Executive Summary: The Differences
In most people's minds, if abstract and executive summary do not usually consist of the same written material, the difference between the two terms is at least the source of uncertainty and confusion.
To understand the exact differences between abstract and executive summary, and thus to stand out from your competitors, read the article Abstract vs. Executive Summary: Discover The Main Differences....