5 Ways Rebates Drive Collaboration

5 Ways Rebates Drive Collaboration

Military leader General George Casey once said, “Clarity and simplicity are the antidotes to complexity and uncertainty.” While this message is valid for military leaders trying to explain complex issues to members of Congress, it is also true of effective rebate management.

This blog post explains what clarity and simplicity have to do with effective supply chain relationships, defines trading partner collaboration, reveals five ways rebates drive collaboration, and shares how Enable’s secret weapon can help.

What is trading partner collaboration?

Trading partners are people, organizations, or countries with whom somebody customarily does business. When these partners are working together effectively, we call this collaboration. When trading relationships work, they work brilliantly. However, when things go wrong, disasters happen.

Writing in Inbound Logistics Magazine, our CEO, Andrew Butt, says, “Strong trading relationships have a significant impact on just about every measure of performance: Customer service, transportation, and storage costs, risk, forecasting, lead times, and even product development.”

The most effective supply chains are built on a firm foundation of cooperation between suppliers and distributors. Prioritizing collaboration helps everyone in the supply chain meet customers’ needs better. But it requires effort. As he says, “suppliers and distributors that don’t prioritize collaboration will get left behind.”

5 ways rebates drive collaboration

Andrew reminds us that a data-driven rebate management platform is one of the most important digital tools for maintaining strong supply chain relationships. These are the 5 ways he suggests that rebates drive collaboration:

1. Rebates create incentives for suppliers and distributors to continue to work together

How can B2B partners reduce friction and improve collaboration to meet customer demands despite the crises facing manufacturers and distributors?  The answer lies in creating mutually-beneficial incentives. By aligning on goals, delivery schedules, volumes, operations, and other concerns, rebates help partners create incentives as part of a mutually-beneficial go-to-market strategy.

Maureen Barsema, Principal at Enable, is quoted in Global Trad Mag as saying, “Rebates enable supply chain partners to set price strategies and deliver competitive quotes that are in line with consumer demand while allowing them to course-correct when projections aren’t aligned with reality.” This is only possible with tools that allow real-time adjustments and true rebate visibility.

2. Rebates bring projections about delivery schedules, consumer demand, and other variables into alignment with reality.

In a survey by McKinsey, alignment on objectives was shown to be the top contributor to successful partnerships. But alignment isn’t just about individuals, partners, groups, or companies sharing common goals – it’s also about their ability to make accurate predictions.

In the past, complicated administrative challenges, disorganized deal information, and a lack of clarity across rebate deals have hampered the visibility and, therefore, both the perceived and actual effectiveness of rebate deals.

As we discuss in the blog post on key practices for supplier vs. distributor collaboration, the ability to record agreements in a standardized way, with common processes, shared sales data, shared business activity forecasts, and simplified rebate sign-off takes away the pain. Suddenly, an ‘ideal’ rebate deal becomes feasible. With the right tools, rebates can be agreed upon rapidly and tracked easily without misunderstandings, distrust, and the arduous pain of managing multiple rebates manually or on spreadsheets getting in the way.

3. Good rebate management tools allow partners to communicate, collaborate and scrutinize the same data to get clarity on how rebates are calculated and what their agreements cover.

The best rebate management tools don’t just enhance communication for better partner relationships. They encourage partners to share best practices to create competitive advantage, and mitigate or manage supply chain risks to improve stability and lower costs.

Maureen says, “supply chain partners should focus on alignment across core functions – from delivery schedules to order volumes… Rebates are crucial for maintaining alignment because they allow partners to negotiate orders on the basis of market realities and make corrections when discrepancies arise.”

Bringing improved visibility of rebate deals to all partners creates greater clarity. Finally, there is no need to trawl through drawers or email inboxes to find the original agreements. Rebate agreements can be simple and clear to all parties, making it easier to reach new goals for mutual benefit.

4. They help craft a mutually beneficial go-to-market strategy.

Maureen says, “Transparency and open communication are necessary to craft a mutually beneficial go-to-market strategy which shares costs, protects margins for all parties, and increases customer confidence. This is why companies should adopt a digital platform that will allow them to share data, eliminate silos, and ensure visibility (a top priority among industry executives) at every link of the supply chain”.

We agree.

And so does Andy James, our Director of Product. Writing in SalesTechSeries, Andy says, “For relationships to remain healthy over the long term, both parties have to participate in the establishment of clear goals and strategies for achieving them. When teams know what they’re working toward and how they intend to get there, companies won’t have to waste time micromanaging employees and restating objectives.”

5. Great rebate management tools help maintain partner relationships.

Andrew concludes his article in Inbound Logistics Magazine with these words, “By forging relationships around transparency, integrated operations, and data-driven flexibility, supply chain partners put themselves in a position to give customers top-notch service and outpace competitors.”

That’s great, in theory, but how does it translate into reality?

Quite simply: By managing rebates effectively.

Tools that help all trading partners model, forecast, and track rebates reduce the chances of disputes and facilitate open communication and collaboration. And open communication and collaboration are the fundamental principles on which trusted partner relationships are built. From these strong foundations, collaboration follows naturally.  

Now all that remains is for us to explain how the right tools make this a possibility.

How to collaborate using Enable

Imagine there was a single, collaborative platform that provides one indisputable source of data and a progress tracker to view performance against trading program targets. Imagine you could invite partners to collaborate with a few clicks. Now imagine that importing transaction data into this platform took only five steps, so this critical information could be shared with trading partners. Can you see how these features might help minimize disputes and delays and help everyone serve end customers better?

We can. 

That’s why we built our partner dashboard. It’s a single view that empowers everyone in a trading partnership to gain full visibility and transparency while helping you drive the specific buying or selling behavior that you want by removing friction.

These are just some of the great ways our partner dashboard drives collaboration:

-       It gives suppliers advanced visibility of rebate performance, allowing them to forecast more accurately.

-       It lets customers know how close they are to hitting their rebate targets, incentivizing them to buy more earlier.

-       It drives growth across the broader ecosystem.

How does it work?

Let’s say you have a program with a target band of $1m, and you’ve spent $800k already halfway through the year. You might be on track to hit an even better band. Share this good news with your internal team – and with customers, suppliers, and buying group members – improving visibility and trust in the trading relationship.

With thousands of deals running simultaneously, it’s not easy to pinpoint deals. That’s why we help users drill down to zoom in on the most important insights by partnership (such as total spend per partner or total rebate) or by looking at the hottest opportunities across your program lines from a buying group member or a vendor’s perspective.

Lastly, and best, this can all work in real time. You can eliminate the delays and overhead in providing progress reports to partners and incentivize specific buying or selling behavior to unlock more rebate success.


True partnership – the essence of effective trading partner collaboration – requires clarity. Collaboration works when everyone knows the shared goals, communicates them effectively, is honest about their challenges, listens effectively, and works together to create a shared understanding.

Developing and pursuing shared goals is simple, with an easy-to-use platform that supports these principles. One tool can underpin successful strategic rebate partnerships, where manual management has broken them in the past.

Discover the rebate management system that turns rebates and incentives into a strategic growth driver for B2B trading partners. Try Enable for free, or schedule a demo to see how it could work for you.

Elizabeth Lavelle

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