Off-invoice incentives, like rebates, have become a popular means of driving revenue and retaining customers. But the complexities of such programmes mean that having the right software in place to manage them effectively is essential for long-term success.
In the past, businesses managed rebate schemes manually – relying on convoluted spreadsheets and time-intensive data input. Modern ERP solutions that encompass rebate management functionality have changed all that, and yet some businesses are still to realise its potential.
In this guide, we’re taking an in-depth look at rebate management and showing you how the right software can make it a workable solution for your business.
- What is Rebate Management?
- Which Teams Are Typically Involved in the Rebate Process?
- How Can Software Support Rebate Management?
- Can ERP Software Support Rebate Management?
Rebate management is the process of managing rebate claims and accruals, ensuring that rebate agreements, purchases, and sales are tracked in an efficient and consistent way. And with modern rebate management functionality available in your business software, the possibilities are even greater – with businesses able to determine net margins and forecast trade activity with a much higher degree of accuracy.
Rebate management is vital for businesses that offer products and services through trade agreements with customers or partners. Rebates not only act as an incentive, offering customers higher discounts and value for money over a certain period, but they’re also excellent for retaining loyalty – with customers more likely to stick with a company because they want to receive the agreed rebate.
For this reason, many businesses have looked to invest in software that facilitates rebate management – dedicated tools that streamline and simplify rebate programmes and management. Such platforms eliminate manual processing and data input through advanced automation, reducing inaccuracies and the risk of human error, while making it simpler to track rebate agreements and pay claims in a timely manner.
Without a modern ERP/business software system with rich rebate management functionality, businesses risk losing out on the benefits that a rebate programme can bring. Reliance on a decentralised and manual-process driven approach usually means that any benefits are short-lived, with delayed payments and disputes leaving a sour taste in the mouth of newly acquired customers.
To further highlight the complexity of rebate management, you need only look at the range of teams needed to maintain such a programme effectively. Rebate management is a multi-stakeholder process, with different personnel across the business playing a role in keeping the system afloat.
Finance and Accounting
Financial personnel ultimately carry out the most important job in the rebate cycle: reconciliations, accruals, and customer payments. Without access to rebate management functionality in your system, such activities are made all the more laborious; a dedicated system means finance teams can track the status of individual rebates with minimal effort, while also analysing profitability reports to identify any areas of concern.
Given that sales teams are responsible for enrolling customers on rebate programmes, and ensuring that they meet rebate thresholds, it’s important they have up-to-date, accurate information readily available. Armed with suitable software, proactive sales teams can drive the success of a rebate programme – maintaining tangible financial recompense for customers, and loyalty for the business.
Product teams, including leads, managers, and pricing personnel, play a critical role in the rebate management cycle – particularly on product/service-specific programmes. They select and define the appropriate products and sales goals, ensuring profitability while calculating accurate rebate thresholds. This relies on a suite of analytics and forecasting tools, with product specialists able to anticipate and forecast for various outcomes.
So, as you can tell, rebate management is a multifaceted process that relies on cross-departmental input and maintenance. And while managing such a programme manually is possible, modern rebate management software has made the whole process much more streamlined, predictable, and consistent.
The main purpose of rebate management functionality in ERP software is to remove resource-intensive manual processes from the picture, allowing stakeholders to accomplish otherwise simple tasks without fear of discrepancy and error. Modern platforms allow businesses the opportunity to extract more value from their rebate programmes, while freeing up internal teams to work on other projects and campaigns.
But with all that said, how exactly does software contribute to effective rebate programme management? Let’s take a look.
Streamlined Agreement Management
Historically, tracking rebate agreements was one of the most complex parts of managing a rebate programme. With suitable software in place, however, all stakeholders enjoy ready access to agreements, so terms and conditions, payment tiers, sales thresholds and eligibility requirements are kept front and centre.
Accurate and Consistent Accrual Tracking
In order for finance teams to keep up with on-time accruals, they need ERP software that allows them to track a customer’s performance in real-time. Rebate management functionality in modern ERP systems do this with minimal manual input required, giving accountancy personnel an accurate picture of the rebate programme’s state of play. This allows for faster customer payments, improving the efficacy of the programme and helping to bolster customer loyalty.
The analytics capabilities offered by modern software systems make performance tracking and payment due dates much simpler to determine. From customer profitability analysis to margin performance, the right system can have a huge impact on the ease of daily discovery and analysis – improving the programme’s overall effectiveness.
Alert Customers of Rebate Opportunities
One of the main advantages of rebate functionality in your business software, particularly from a sales perspective, is the ease at which teams can spot opportunities and alert customers about specific rebate options. From there, automated reminders and streamlined analytics let sales personnel alert customers when they’re drawing close to a rebate target. This, ultimately, helps drive revenue and loyalty – the primary KPIs of any rebate programme.
Automated Calculations, Payments and Credits
Manually overseeing rebate payments, claims and credits is a time-intensive process. But with modern management tools, automation options allow for simple calculations and automatic payments, as well as the automated issuing of credits owed to customers. This leads to fewer disputes and bottlenecks, again improving the efficiency and performance of the programme.
For our customers we often find that a standalone rebate management system may not provide the most practical and cost-effective solution for their business. Instead, ERP software designed for those in the B2B space can provide a multifunctional and fully integrated solution that supports rebate management – as well as a whole range of complementary functions.
From accounts to inventory management to customer discovery – ERP systems are designed to offer a centralised platform on which to run multiple business-critical functions. A modern ERP setup provides all the functionality you need to manage a rebate programme effectively, with teams able to benefit from seamless connectivity with other applications and workflows.
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