Oct 14, 2021

How Better Rebate Management Benefits B2B Sales

By Zilliant

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Rebates and other off-invoice programs are valuable levers for B2B companies to pull toincentivize desiredbuyer behavior andfosterbrand loyalty.But,they come withone importantcaveat: sales reps and theircustomersmust be aware of the programsthey are enrolled in and how they aretracking againstsales thresholds at any given point in time. This may seem simple and obvious, butinpracticeit is not. The status quo rebate process for many companies featuressignificantblind spots, leading to missed opportunities forgrowingrevenue and customer satisfaction.

sales rebate management

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 ismost 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 takesawayfromvaluable selling time.

These static spreadsheetsalsooften 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 iscompletely open for sales reps tonegotiate and set up customer-specific programs,it can improve the challenge above, but complicates the accruals and payout process in thebackend.Miscommunication between sales and financeleadto delayed payments to customers and upside-down balance sheets for the business offering the rebate.

Identifyingand WinningOpportunities

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, whetherthat meanspurchasing 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 andforget. Sales operations teams lack immediate and reliable visibility into program performance and reps are toooverwhelmed withquota attainment and the next transaction to perform rebate health checks for each enrolled customer.

This creates a huge miss for most B2B organizations. Rebatesconsistentlycreate new revenue opportunities,but they are highlytime 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 itto the customerwith enough time left forit to be acted upon. It is an unwiseleap of faith to assume the customer is tracking itsownperformance against sales targets. Unfortunately, this simple selling conversation (“You have a month to spend x amount to receive a 10% credit”) isfrequentlyprevented due toalack 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 pressureto worry about.

How Rebate Management Benefits B2B Sales Teams  

rebate management software

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 solutionkeeps rebates top of mind for sellers. Sales operations and management teams cannotify account managersofopportunitiesto drive additional sales based on each customer’s enrolled rebate programs.

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

Conclusion 

b2b rebate program

Rebates areapowerful method to motivate a customer base, build brand loyalty, and ultimately, increase revenue. However, the process of executing and managing rebates isusuallyacumbersome, manualone.  A centralized rebate management system keeps programs top of mind for sales teams, drives timely opportunities, and promotes 360-degrees ofvisibility for all stakeholders. 

Contact Zilliant today to learn more.  

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