Managing B2B rebates? Here are some crucial New Year’s resolutions

Managing B2B rebates? Here are some crucial New Year’s resolutions

It’s not to late to make some resolutions for the New Year—especially when it comes to how you manage B2B rebates… Your New Year’s Eve party might seem like a distant—and slightly fuzzy—memory, but it’s actually still early January. And that means you still have time to make some powerful New Year’s resolutions. In our work with rebate professionals at manufacturers, distributors and buying groups, we constantly meet people looking to break with the past, and substantially improve their working lives. Inspired by those ambitious human beings, we’ve created this shortlist of suggested resolutions for anyone whose job involves managing B2B rebates. Whether you’re drawing up customer rebate agreements or claiming rebate revenue, these resolutions should help you—and your business—make 2020 a year of positive transformation.

Shape up your processes

Rebate management is a complex discipline. And there’s every chance that the processes you depend on aren’t making it any simpler. Manual data coding and calculations can easily lead to errors and disputes. Disconnected processes can quickly obscure how much you—or your customer—is buying, meaning volume thresholds are missed, and the impact of rebate agreements is diminished for both parties. So - find the time to step back from your day-to-day priorities, and review your rebate management processes. Are they as efficient as they could be? If not, how could they be improved?

(Finally) kick your Excel habit

Your rebate management processes will always be dictated, to some extent, by your rebate management tools. And for too many companies, their primary tool remains Microsoft Excel. Now, smart people can do incredible things with a spreadsheet. Especially when it’s the only option available to them. But Excel isn’t a long-term solution for managing the creation, recording, and tracking of rebate programs, or the forecasting and calculation of rebate revenue. Excel sheets are slow to update with data and hard to keep secure. Worse, they often help create data silos, leading to tedious—and error-prone—reconciliation of data with ERP systems. Today, there are dedicated rebate management systems designed specifically for the businesses on both sides of rebate agreements. It’s time to check them out.

Be the change you want to see—and bring teams together

If you’re managing customer rebate programs for your company, you’ll know how many other teams your rebate workload touches. Be the person who gets those sales, finance and commercial stakeholders on the same page. Push for a single source of rebate data truth, available to everyone who needs it, and generally seek ways to boost collaboration. If you’re managing supplier rebates, the same principle is true. Through easy-to-digest reports and regular communication make it easier for purchasing and management teams to understand the value of proposed and ongoing agreements—and to monitor performance against key volume thresholds.

Start making better use of your time

How much time do you spend reconciling data between your ERP and your rebate tracking systems? Or manually identifying rebate issues? And what could you do with that time, if you suddenly had it back? Any good rebate management system is likely to integrate with your ERP system, automate calculations, simplify monitoring and auditing—and generally free you up to focus on strategic actions, that create fresh value for your business. (Such as nurturing closer relations with new and existing buyers, or negotiating better deals with suppliers, and maximizing their impact.)

Give peace the best possible chance

You may not be able to put an end to war, but you can certainly take steps to avoid rebate-related disputes.

  • If you run rebate programs for a supplier: create clear templates for sales people to follow when striking deals—and ensure you and your customers are looking at the same version of the agreement, by hosting it in a mutually accessible place.
  • If you claim rebate revenue for a distributor or buying group: consider investing in an RMS that lets you invite suppliers to view relevant purchasing data within your systems, without it needing to be manually copied or exported.

Put your house in order—and keep it that way

Nobody wants to become the rebate horror story of 2020.If you’re purchasing against rebate programs, now is the time to make sure you’re creating a clear audit trail. And if you’re not, to rapidly design and introduce more robust processes.

Kickstart your career

Right now, the way many businesses handle rebates is ripe for revolution. (So much so, that we find most distributors are leaving 4% of potential rebate revenue unclaimed, every year.)By highlighting current inefficiencies—and suggesting new solutions—you’ve a real opportunity to impact your business’ bottom line, impress senior stakeholders, and kickstart the next stage of your own career.

Sticking to your resolutions. It’s easier with the right support

If you’ve made rebate-related resolutions that you’re struggling to keep, get in touch - we might just be able to help. And if you’re interested in seeing exactly how the right rebate management system could change your working life, you can try Enable absolutely free of charge.

Elizabeth Lavelle

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