How to write a capability statement that works for you

A persuasive, informative capability statement is essential for generating leads and informing prospective clients about what your business can do for them.

Capability statements are often first created as a proposal-style document when a business has an opportunity to present its ‘credentials’ to a prospective client. But there are plenty of other ways in which a good capability statement can support your company’s business development.

Writing a sound capability statement so that you maximise its usage requires a little thought. Here’s advice from the professional B2B copywriters at Proof Communications on how to write a great capability statement and how to use it.

What is a capability statement?

A well-written capability statement is an easily understandable summary of your business. It tells your audience what you do, how you do it and the outcomes you deliver.

It’s very simply a CV for your company. The goal of your capability statement is to deliver precise information to potential clients that will persuade them to do business with you.

Sometimes called a capacity statement or a credentials document, a capability statement provides both basic and detailed information about your company. It includes brief information about the company’s history, the types of projects you’ve undertaken and your services or products.

It’s also where you outline any industry codes you work under, your team’s qualifications, industry certifications and awards won. All up, a capability statement brings together vital information to help prospective customers gauge your suitability.

How do you write a capability statement?

An excellent capability statement is concise. It’s usually 5-6 pages and rarely more than 10 pages.

Make sure your capability statement follows a logical format so that it’s easy to read and comprehend for your readers.

The best capability statements are tailored to a specific prospective customer. Therefore, each capability statement needs to be personalised. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all capability statement.

The information you include will be determined by the complexity of your business, your target client, and how the statement will be used.

Generally speaking, a capability statement will include the following information:

  • Customised cover with the prospective client’s name, plus your logo and company name. You can also include your contact information here.
  • Your company profile including your values (for creditability and trust) – up to one page in length.
  • The major services or products that solve your clients’ problems/needs.
  • Your most important selling points (value proposition, which is often missing from credentials documents, tenders and proposals) – no more than one page. Provide a detailed description of the outcomes or results that your company, product, or service delivers. These could be arranged according to the service line. Use language that sells your product, service, or area of knowledge.
  • A track record of success (details of your business partners, major customers or significant pieces of work you have completed or testimonials). Up to two pages. This describes who you’ve collaborated with, what you’ve worked on, and your achievements for your customers. You may include brief case studies here, depending on your product or service.
  • Any awards, accreditations, or certifications received – up to one page in length.
  • Your team (to show you have the right people and resources) – 1-2 pages in length. Describe the professional backgrounds, qualifications, and experience of your team members. Include individual images as well as a team photo.
  • Contact information.

How do you write a capability statement?

When copywriting a capability statement the most effective approach is to focus on the customer. Avoid writing pages and pages of what you believe to be the most terrific features of your company.

Consider the following suggestions and considerations, based on research by McKinsey regarding brand messaging.

  • Be straightforward.
  • Consider your (time-strapped) readers when crafting your statement; be succinct.
  • Use words and vocabulary that your readers will understand.
  • Explain how the features and benefits of your company will help the customer solve any potential challenges.
  • After you’ve gone over your first draft, have a proof reader proofread the draft for you.
  • Use graphics to communicate your brand’s messages and methodology. Include a photo of your team.
  • Overall, the statement should demonstrate why you are trustworthy, demonstrate that you have credibility in the market, and demonstrate that you have previous experience solving similar situations for similar organisations.

How can you get more use from your capability statement?

Capability statements can be used in a variety of ways. Sometimes, organisations are expected to include one with their tenders. Other times, a capability statement can be helpful at meetings with prospective clients or as ‘leave-behinds’. Some businesses use them as download from their websites.

Proof Communications’ professional copywriters can create a credentials document for you.

Use your capability statement to pitch for sub-contracting opportunities

You may not have won the big government tender, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pitch for sub-contracting work from the business that did. Large contractors who win tenders are often required to subcontract out work to smaller outfits, so your professionally put together capability statement will help put you ahead of the rest when it comes to getting in on the action.

Make sure to include past successful projects you’ve worked on, any government departments you’ve worked alongside and the dollar value of the contracts involved.

Use your capability statement when applying for finance

When the time comes to refinance or you need to approach your bank for a loan, your capability statement is an impressive document to give to any financial institution. In order to assess whether you’re a good credit risk, a lender will want to know about more than simply your financial position when they assess your business. Your capability statement will provide a good overview of your company and its structure, where you stand in the market and your potential for growth.

Remember, financiers are looking for reliability and stability and a well-constructed capability statement will get your finance application off to a flying start.

Use your capability statement to tell staff exactly what the business does

You know your business inside out, but does everyone who works for you? Staff members may not know the real scope of your business and your capability statement is one way to give them a good grounding in what your business is all about. And, because it includes lots of handy facts about what you do, it’s a great sales tool for handling enquiries from customers, vendors and professional organisations.

You can also use your capability statement as part of your interview process or orientation and induction training for new employees. Make sure your sales people always have a couple of copies with them, too; they’ll come in handy when making new contacts out in the field and speak volumes more than a business card alone.

For help with writing a credentials document or capability statement, email Proof Communications today or ring us on 02 8036 5521.

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