How to Get Started with Rebate Management
Finding an effective approach to managing your incentive programs can be a game-changer for businesses stuck on spreadsheets and other inefficient methods. In particular, businesses using spreadsheets to track their rebate deals can quickly become buried under the unwieldy weight of fast-growing sheets. For many businesses, spreadsheets and manual rebate management have become “the evil you know” – a comfortable nuisance that is, at least, familiar. Lacking a solid process or platform upon which to build, rebate management falls by the wayside and into disrepair.
We’ll let you in on a little secret: starting or revamping a rebate management process doesn’t have to be a challenge. Like any new endeavor, it may seem intimidating at first – but when you learn how to use them, rebates can be some of the most powerful tools at a seller’s disposal.
Whether you’re starting fresh or starting over, where should you begin with rebate management?
Determine Your Needs and Goals
The first – and arguably most fundamental – step in getting started with rebate management is identifying and understanding your business’ needs and goals. These will determine many elements of your approach to rebate management, from the type of rebate program you should use to the processes and software you should use to manage them.
In deciding on an approach to rebate management, consider the following questions:
- How many deals are you typically managing at any one time?
- How many people are handling your rebate management functions?
- What issues or delays do you see in your current rebate management process?
How much time do your rebate processes take up every week? Every month?
Every rebate management software has unique strengths and benefits. Choosing the best one for your particular business often comes down to a matter of priorities. Start your rebate management journey with a clear understanding of what you’re looking for.
Forget About Spreadsheets
When data from rebate deals starts piling up, many teams pick up the nearest tool available: the trusty spreadsheet. For many new rebate managers, the first and hardest lesson to learn is that some tools just don’t suit the job. This is unfortunately the case when using spreadsheets for rebate management: they simply aren’t built to handle the complexities of incentive programs. Spreadsheets lack essential tracking, calculation and reporting capabilities that rebate teams expend significant time and effort handling manually.
Relying heavily on human entry and control, spreadsheets are also prone to errors. One misplaced click can doom your team to hours of searching and resolving any incorrect calculations resulting from the initial error. Beyond that, spreadsheet confusion can cost you more than just time. Companies that manage customer rebates on spreadsheets tend to overpay by 0.21% – an average of $83,000 annually, while distributors using spreadsheets fail to collect 1% of the rebates they’re owed every year. That’s $218,829 left on the table.
A capable rebate management system can take your team from “spreadsheet jockeys” to rebate commanders, making strategic decisions from a powerful vantage point while automated software does the heavy lifting.
Choose the Right Strategy and Tools
While every business has different needs, one thing remains true for businesses utilizing incentive programs: any method of manual rebate management will end up costing your team more time, effort and resources than an automated solution. In fact, we’ve found that companies using a dedicated software solution to manage their supplier rebates typically spend 40% less time on month-end activities.
If you’ve decided to make use of a rebate management system to track your deals, you now must face the challenge of choosing which software is right for your business. These programs can be rather cost-intensive up front, so making the right decision at this stage is paramount to the success of your incentive strategy.
Top 3 Things to Look for in a Rebate Management System:
- The first and foremost thing to consider about any potential rebate management system is simply: does it have the features you need? Can it fulfill the functions that your team is currently spending time on? A rebate management system should replace many of the efforts of your team, not add to them.
- Not all contracts are boilerplate. Your RMS should be flexible enough to capture the bespoke nature of many incentive programs – whether that be specific requirements, special agreements or unique purchase targets.
- The ability to view data at multiple levels of detail is a must-have RMS feature. For executives in need of a quick update, dashboards can provide an at-a-glance overview of your deals’ performance. For accountants digging for data, you can find detailed granular views of each of your deals.
Develop and Implement a Process
When it comes to rebate management, consistency is key. You need a reliable process to accurately track the progress of your deals, avoid errors and keep your deals running smoothly and efficiently. Every business’ rebate strategy is unique, and as such, every business runs their rebate management process a little differently.
However, automated software can act as a flexible “one-size-fits-all” approach, working in tandem with your processes for a streamlined rebate management experience. Building your rebate management process around your RMS ensures that you’re using the platform to its full potential, that there is no redundancy in your process, and that rebate management takes up as little of your team’s time and effort as possible.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Finding the best approach to rebate management is all about working smarter, not harder. Instead of devoting more time and human capital to detangling massive spreadsheets, why not take the effort – and the potential for human error – out of the equation?
When you automate your rebate management process, you’re taking the time-consuming, resource-draining, error-prone tasks out of human hands. No shade to your teams, but letting automated software handle the calculations is almost always faster and more reliable. Humans are great at many things, but when it comes to managing rebate deals, a capable rebate management system like the Enable platform takes the cake. Check out our new customer success story featuring NuLiv Science to see what Enable can do for you.
Ready to take the next step in your rebate management journey? Check out our Buyers’ Guide to Choosing Rebate Management Software.