The decision-making summary, or "executive summary", is a key and essential section of any proposal and bid document. Usually it is positioned at the beginning of an offer to highlight the strengths of the commercial proposal. Its defining purpose is to help the decision-maker quickly identify and understand the proposed benefits. The critical questions raised here are; does price have a place in this part? Is it a risk to include any commercial information so early in your proposal?
1#The reader judges the proposal based on price
The executive summary is not a summary of the offer, but rather an “amuse-bouche” that reassures the reader about the relevance of your application and makes him or her want to know more. At this point in the document, the demonstration hasn’t begun and the reader is just embarking on the path of persuasion. Displaying a price proposal from the first page means taking the risk that the reader will immediately launch into merchant calculations and running a cost benefit analysis. All of this being undertaken without taking the time to fully understand and appreciate your added value and benefits.
2#The price has no justification
A commercial proposal is used to justify a price, especially if it is higher than the competition. In real terms, it's about making the decision maker understand why he or she should choose you over any other provider. If the price is announced and then continually justified it puts the writer on the back foot, "Of course, it's expensive, but that's because...". By reversing the maneuver, the salesperson regains control: “… and it is for all these excellent reasons that the price is X”. At this stage, if the proposal is successful, the reader is already convinced and the price becomes a formality.
A similar logic applies for a price that might be considered low or cheap in your marketplace. This can confuse the buyer/reader who will start to question the quality and benefits of your proposal and raise suspicion on the quality of the service. A better choice is to provide guarantees on the performance of the proposed solution before announcing a price and affirm the value of what you are offering.
3#Price and Value for Money are Mixed
Value for money is important, more than the figure itself. If the price positioning is a unique advantage of a proposal, it must of course be mentioned in the decision-making summary... but without giving figures. If the summary is well constructed, the reader knows where to find the price in the document. The mission of the proposal writer is to make the reader discover this price only after understanding the benefits he or she can derive from your solution.
A price is never enough in itself, it is always accompanied by an argument that justifies it and hands all the cards to the decision maker to make a choice. To give a price from the first pages is to reverse the path of persuasion and risk losing your position of power in delivering a compelling solution.
Related article: 6 Steps to Improve Your Business Proposals