How Better Rebate Management Benefits B2B Sales

By Zilliant

Oct 14, 2021

Rebates and other off-invoice programs are valuable levers for B2B companies to pull to incentivize desired buyer behavior and foster brand loyalty. But, they come with one important caveat: sales reps and their customers must be aware of the programs they are enrolled in and how they are tracking against sales thresholds at any given point in time. This may seem simple and obvious, but in practice it is not. The status quo rebate process for many companies features significant blind spots, leading to missed opportunities for growing revenue and customer satisfaction.

Rebate Challenges forSales Teams  

Enrolling Customers

At any given time, multiple rebate programs usually exist within a business. Sales reps are the gears that make a program run smoothly. They are relied upon to properly communicate the parameters of a program – the eligibility requirements, timeline, sales thresholds, et cetera – andget customers signed up. The trouble is most rebate programs are drawn up on large spreadsheets and blasted out to reps in the field over email. It’s a time-consuming process to comb through the data and interpret the minutia of each program to determine which of your customers are eligible for which programs. The manual nature of the process takes away from valuable selling time.

These static spreadsheet sal so often lack context, leaving reps on their own to understand the “why” behind each program. By the time it’s deciphered and explained to a customer, much can be lost in translation.Often the process for enrolling eligible customers who are interested is another manual one, prone to errors and delays.

However, if the enrollment process is completely open for sales reps to negotiate and set up customer-specific programs, it can improve the challenge above, but complicates the accruals and payout process in the backend. Miscommunication between sales and finance lead to delayed payments to customers and upside-down balance sheets for the business offering the rebate.

Identifying and Winning Opportunities

Enrolling a customer in a rebate program is just the beginning. We must remember why we are doing this in the first place. It’s to get the customer to behave a certain way, whether that means purchasing more volume, buying bundles, acquiring stale inventory, or any number of other initiatives.

It’s the job of the entire sales team, from operations to management to individual reps, to keep customers on track toward these goals. Too often the practical outcome is set and forget. Sales operations teams lack immediate and reliable visibility into program performance and reps are too overwhelmed with quota attainment and the next transaction to perform rebate health checks for each enrolled customer.

This creates a huge miss for most B2B organizations. Rebates consistently create new revenue opportunities, but they are highly time sensitive.For instance, perhaps a customer is $100K short of its next rebate threshold, with just a month left in the program. It behooves the sales team to have this insight, and clearly communicate it to the customer with enough time left for it to be acted upon. It is an unwise leap of faith to assume the customer is tracking its own performance against sales targets. Unfortunately, this simple selling conversation (“You have a month to spend x amount to receive a 10% credit”) is frequently prevented due to a lack of sales insight and foresight.

Keeping Customers Happy and Invested

Rebate programs are a customer satisfaction tightrope act. While they carry the potential to deepen customer relationships, the payout delays and confusion over agreement terms that often accompany rebates do the exact opposite.

A poorly managed program disincentives the customer from investing in future rebates, or worse, convinces them to start to defect. In this sense, rebates can become just one more headache for a sales team under constant pressure to worry about.

How Rebate Management Benefits B2B Sales Teams  

Moving rebate functions off spreadsheets and into a centralized management application increases the sales teams’ visibility and aligns their communication with the finance and pricing departments. Program details can be seamlessly fed to sales teams so they can instantly discover which programs customers are eligible for, which agreements are active, accrual status and a money map that shows performance to date by program and by tier.

Perhaps most importantly, a rebate management solution keeps rebates top of mind for sellers. Sales operations and management teams cannotify account managers of opportunities to drive additional sales based on each customer’s enrolled rebate programs.

A top-down approach to rebate management prevents the kind of rogue program creation that can lead to miscommunication with customers and accounting surprises. Your rebate management solution must also be flexible enough to allow sales reps to make changes as needed to a program, should a company choose to permit it.


Rebates area powerful method to motivate a customer base, build brand loyalty, and ultimately, increase revenue. However, the process of executing and managing rebates is usually a cumbersome, manual one.  A centralized rebate management system keeps programs top of mind for sales teams, drives timely opportunities, and promotes 360-degrees of visibility for all stakeholders. 

Contact Zilliant today to learn more.  

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