Rebate Strategists University: Best of the Best Highlights
Over the past four months, we hosted our ‘Rebate Strategists University’ webinar series with our Professor of Rebates and Evangelist, Mark Gilham. This series has been a huge success, so we wanted to share some highlights with those of you who may not have had a chance to watch it yet.
The aim of RSU is to help a growing number of rebate managers find success by approaching rebates in a more strategic way – with exciting results for their businesses. So sit tight and we’ll take you step-by-step from rebate manager to rebate strategist.
RSU 101 – Escaping from Administrative Reactivity
The first step to becoming a rebate strategist is to help your team escape from the clutches of administrative reactivity to prepare for your new role as rebate strategists. Mark’s advice for those dealing with a high amount of rebate administration is to:
- Build the Right Rebate Team
For your rebate team, you need more than just a number-cruncher – you need someone with strong interpersonal skills who can comfortably interact with your trading partners and across your team internally. This ability can make or break a rebate operation.
- Develop a Reliable Process
To combat the plentiful misunderstandings, miscommunications and mistakes of a complex rebate management process, you need to develop a clear and reliable process that allows you to capture all your data, contracts and receipts. Many businesses employ different strategies and tools – including automated rebate management software – to ensure that your deals are reaching their full potential.
- Keep Your Receipts and Reconcile Regularly
When accruing for rebates, it is common for doubts and disputes to arise among stakeholders. Discrepancies between your receipts and your actual accruals can serve as early warning signs for problems that will get worse if left unchecked. To prevent this, implement a system of thorough checks, approvals and frequent reconciliations to nip potential problems in the bud before small errors snowball into massive cracks in your year-end accounting.
Want to learn more? You can view the entire RSU 101 webinar here.
RSU 201: Amping Up Your Analysis
In the next episode, Mark touches on reshaping your processes and perspective on rebates for a more strategic approach. Analyzing what you’ve got currently in place and what next steps need to be taken to set yourself up to become a rebate strategist.
- Assessing and Compiling Your Data
One of the first things Mark recommends during the accrual process is to assess all your data to verify its reliability. Sometimes a bit of digging is required especially if it is spread out among disparate systems before you can have real confidence in your data, but it’s essential to maintain clarity throughout. The first step should be to bring all your data into a rebate management system where you can create a single version of the truth.
- Month-End Transactions for Suppliers and Distributors: What’s the Difference?
If you are on the supplier side of providing a rebate to your customers, this process is simple: take your sales data, compare your rebate terms against it and calculate the amount that your customers are due. Distributors, on the other hand need to determine how much you’ve earned in rebates and how much should still be in stock.
- Avoiding Calculation Disputes
Calculations disputes happen due to the existence of different versions of agreements, contract changes not communicated and improper documentation with ambiguous terms. These issues can cause your business to start the next deal off on the wrong foot, with strained trading relationships. To avoid this, Mark recommends keeping your communications clear and transparent internally and externally.
Want to learn more about assessing your data and avoiding calculation disputes? Watch the whole RSU 201 webinar here.
RSU 301: Rebate Strategy for Managers
Now you’ve assessed your data and perfected your accrual process. Now, you think you’re ready to take on rebates. In this episode, Mark talks about:
- Preparing for Year-End Audits
While auditors (internal or external) should be among the easiest stakeholders to satisfy, they are also the ones that you can’t afford to disappoint. Make sure that you’re managing your processes diligently, double-checking your calculations and verifying your accruals to keep auditors happy. Mark recommends running your own internal audit. Check everything that the auditor will check and be able to answer any questions or queries that may arise.
- The Responsibility of Reporting
After ensuring your calculations are correct, your next responsibility is reporting. Different teams require different information to be included in their rebate reports. For example, your procurement team may want to understand why suppliers are falling behind on your rebate payments, while your relationship managers will want to stay in the loop on how much a customer is due in rebates to avoid any potential friction when offering further sales.
- Mitigating Risks in Rebate Management
Rebates are only risky if they’re managed inefficiently, and mitigating that risk begins with knowing the risk factors and how to account for them. One of these is contract times because the longer new contracts take to come through, the greater the risk. You’ll want to keep a close eye on the status of your contracts to ensure that they don’t lapse or slip through the cracks.
Need a more in-depth dive into rebate strategy for managers? Check out the entire RSU 301 webinar here.
RSU 401 – Becoming a Rebate Strategist
In this final episode, Mark wrap things up with a few final thoughts about reaching your full rebate potential and managing rebate perceptions. He recommends sticking to these three key pillars to maintain a strong rebate strategy:
- Set SMART Goals
When managing rebates, it’s important to maintain this level of structure and intentionality with your deals. A good rebate strategist knows not only what you’re working to incentivize, but how to measure and assess your progress towards your goals.
- Collaborative and Transparent
For any deal to be successful, the other party must know how they're performing and what is expected of them to perform better. You can only incentivize somebody if they're confident that they know what's expected of them and how they're performing. Without that transparency, your deals won’t be nearly as effective or easy to manage.
- Easy to Manage
This pillar is not about the simplicity of your rebate schemes but working within your ability to create structures and processes that you’re capable of managing. They should be easy to measure, calculate, share information and negotiate. If you’re looking to increase your capacity to handle the volume or complexity of your rebates, consider using an automated rebate management software to supplement the skills of your team.
Want to learn how to become a rebate strategist? Watch the entire 401 episode here.
Start Your Rebate Strategist Journey Today
There you have it, all the highlights from the four-part ‘Rebate Strategists University’ webinar series. If you want a more in-depth look at all of what the rebate strategists' webinars covered download our white paper or schedule a demo to see how rebate management services can help you become the best rebate strategist you can be.