The Power of Your Proposal Summary

The Power of a Proposal Summary


If you doubt the power of your proposal summary, just imagine, for a moment, being a proposal evaluator. Put yourselves in their proverbial shoes.

A stack, maybe 10 proposals, sit in front of you. You have an obligation, no duty, to review each one thoroughly. To evaluate each with independence and fair-handedness and to select the winning proponent that will deliver a vitally important project that will serve the interest of your community for, potentially, decades to come. Wow, that’s pressure.

Wait, there’s more. Each proposal is roughly 150 pages.


Quick math…that’s 1,500 pages to ‘thoroughly review and evaluate.’

If it were me, I would look for every opportunity to fulfill my obligations in the most efficient way possible. I would turn my attention to the proposal summary. That puts a lot of pressure on the proposal’s executive summary. How would yours stack up?

Unfortunately for many unsuccessful proponents, their executive summary is an afterthought. Their thinking is probably along the lines of “it’s not part of the evaluation criteria, so why bother investing too much time and energy on it.”

That’s just plain wrong. And ignores how a rational human being thinks and acts.

It may not be an ‘official’ part of the evaluation criteria, but it will be read and, if crafted properly, provide evaluators with a short synopsis of the most relevant and persuasive parts of your submission.

It may not be marked, but it will help evaluators identify the strengths of your submission and give you the maximum score in areas where it matters most. And if it is part of the scoring criteria, which is often the case, you owe it to yourself to create an insightful, informative proposal summary.

When we prepare an executive summary for a client’s proposal, we frequently use the evaluation criteria as a framework to provide a brief summary for each element, highlighting key features of their proposal and where they can be found in the submission. This approach has proven to be both powerful and effective.

Our client tends to win a lot of proposals.

Apart from the framework or structure of your proposal’s executive summary, there are a few questions that you need to be sure it addresses.


To help, we’ve developed a handy-dandy checklist.

Please use this checklist to prepare the outline for or review the draft of your proposal summary. It goes without saying, hopefully, that it should be tailored to each Request for Proposal (RFP).

Just for fun…pull out one of your last proposals, and see how many of the following questions it addresses. And if your last submission didn’t contain an executive summary, use the following as a guide to use on your next proposal.

So, here we go.

Does your proposal summary:

  • Summarize the challenges to be solved and the effectiveness of your approach?
  • Acknowledge the client’s concerns and how they will be addressed?
  • Outline your proposed solution and how it will address the RFP’s technical requirements?
  • Offer a unique, value-added alternative to traditional approaches?
  • Communicate that you understand your client’s issues, from both a stakeholder and organizational perspective?
  • Summarize the most unique and compelling aspects of your proposal?
  • Demonstrate that you’ve assembled the right team for the project?
  • Identify both the risks and opportunities of the project and how the former will be mitigated and the latter leveraged?
  • Sincerely and effectively communicate your firm’s excitement and commitment to both the client and the success of the project?
  • Demonstrate your understanding of how this project ties into the long-term objectives of your client’s organization?

Ok, I know that’s a lengthy list of questions to address in your proposal summary. Maybe you don’t touch on every one of them. But it’s important that you address the plurality of questions. If not, you are leaving ‘points on the table.’

I hope that helps. Embrace the chase.

And let us know if you need some help. We love to win as much as you do. To learn more, please visit our proposal writing services page.