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Reimagine Rebate Programs To Improve Channel Relationships

Are you underwhelmed with how your incentive and rebate programs are performing? Here’s how you can boost efficiency, loyalty, and profits.

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This scenario is much more common than it should be: you’re checking the monthly channel sales numbers and the results are disappointing. The rebate program you put in place to incentivize partners to sell more isn’t helping. In fact, some partners aren’t even entering the sales they do get.

The frustration isn’t just about your partners not being motivated by the program, but you also have limited visibility into which partners have received rebate payments (and how much) and which partners might be on the cusp of reaching a threshold to increase their payment. The finance team typically owns rebate programs, but is swamped with other operational challenges that slow down response time to your inquiries.

These are just two of the many challenges faced by B2B organizations and their partners. Everyone from finance to sales to partners needs better collaboration and real-time visibility into incentive programs. But when companies rely on tools like spreadsheets, enterprise resource planning (ERP), or point solutions, the resulting inefficiencies not only hurt current-month sales – they chip away at partner loyalty, trust, and ultimately, long-term profitability. The right technology can help B2B organizations give everyone along the value chain full transparency into rebate programs, plus build and scale more sophisticated incentives to foster partner engagement.

Improving incentive strategies are top-of-mind for B2B organizations as they focus on increasing channel sales and building stronger partner relationships. Rebate programs are a major part of that incentive focus as a critical source of revenue for businesses. Here’s how to reimagine your rebate program to boost efficiency, loyalty, and profits.

What challenges do B2B organizations and partners face in their rebate programs?

Four key challenges and one frustrating result await B2B organizations when they rely on siloed systems (like enterprise resource planning software (ERPs), point solutions, or manual spreadsheets) to manage their rebate programs. A lack of visibility, poor data quality, a failure to understand incentives’ return on investment (ROI), and communication breakdowns keep important performance insights hidden from partner- and customer-facing team members. As a result, reps are unable to identify and promote profitable buying behaviors. And because redeeming incentives is often cumbersome for the partner, many skip the process altogether. That leads to a frustrating experience for everyone.

B2B organizations feel pressure to offer rebate programs to their partners, even if they don’t know whether incentives help or hurt revenue growth. That could be because of intense marketplace competition, a desire to promote a related product or service, or a goal to build a reputation as a value-focused business. But given the historical difficulties, it’s no wonder B2B organizations (and their partners) desire a more streamlined process that offers transparency and efficiency.

How can B2B organizations improve processes and optimize channel sales?

B2B organizations are eager to optimize channel sales through rebates resulting in accelerated interest to improve the experience for partners. Digital technology allows for frictionless rebate programs that relieve partners’ frustration. Consider these opportunities:

Data visibility closes a wide knowledge gap

B2B organizations want more control over what’s working and what isn’t in their rebate programs – and to understand the reasons why. When important data about program performance is shared in real time, leadership and sales can respond quickly to channel partner needs. This allows everyone to align sales goals and optimize selling strategies.

Automation improves data quality and enables more sophisticated incentive programs

When sales and finance teams enter the same data into different platforms, mistakes are more likely. Teams that rely on a single source of truth reduce the possibility of error and eliminate double work. With digitized rebates, B2B organizations can replace manual processes with more sophisticated and flexible programs that drive sales and improve margins.

Intelligent analytics surface undiscovered insights into rebate ROI

Do you know if your rebate program is helping or hurting revenue growth? Partner-facing teams need instant visibility into how incentives are performing, along with data-driven recommendations for the next best actions to take. With clear insights about profitable buying behaviors, it’s easier for sales to quickly identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

Accessibility reduces friction related to slow response times

Storing rebate program data on siloed systems makes it harder for sales to respond quickly and correctly to even the most basic questions from partners. Eliminating these pain points improves the experience and boosts loyalty.

Four steps to optimize rebate management programs

Data transparency and AI-driven insights empower everyone – sales, finance, and channel partners – to make faster, more strategic business decisions. With 83% of manufacturers citing improving process efficiencies as critical or high priority over the next two years, according to an upcoming “Trends in Manufacturing” report conducted by Salesforce, it makes sense to embed customer data – including rebate management – into a customer relationship management (CRM) platform.

When rebate management is embedded in a CRM, B2B organizations can deliver full visibility into the ways incentives drive top-line and bottom-line growth. Teams gain access to intelligent, real-time insights that build partner engagement, trust, and loyalty. Plus, leadership can develop, manage, and scale more innovative, sophisticated rebate programs that speak directly to the needs of partners. Here are four steps to take to optimize rebate management programs:

1. Adopt a single source of truth to stay flexible and build trust

From a single platform, everyone on the value chain gains visibility and control over the entire rebate lifecycle. Teams access data in real time to analyze patterns and trends. Based on this data, they can respond to new needs and adjust rebate programs accordingly. This keeps B2B organizations agile while building trust with partners.

2. Automate rebates to improve data quality and enable flexibility

CRM platforms deliver superior rebate program management because they allow you to configure, operate, analyze, scale, and update rebate data and rules directly in the platform – without relying on siloed technology. For example, you can automate rebate calculations and generate approval reminders and payouts, which greatly improves efficiency and accuracy. And automating rebate data makes it much easier for your channel partners to redeem rewards – a process many partners find frustrating.

3. Analyze rebate data to surface rebate program ROI

It isn’t enough to offer rebates – you also need to understand how they affect business profitability. Rebate management in a CRM lets you compare rebate and business performance side by side and all in one place. Account data you’ve already collected, like leads and opportunities, become even more valuable because reporting, forecasting, and planning are easier. These tools give users a clear, easily understood line of sight into the ways incentives affect revenue and profits. Armed with intelligent, AI-driven insights, you can easily configure innovative, sophisticated (and profitable) incentive programs directly in the CRM.

4. Reduce friction to foster collaboration and partner engagement

Giving internal teams and channel partners greater visibility into how your rebate programs work eliminates slowdowns and avoidable mistakes while building engagement. You can empower customer-facing teams to take next best actions based on AI-generated insights, such as recommending upsell opportunities, so partners achieve the next payout tier. And finance no longer spends time explaining threshold attainment, calculations, payouts, and program rules to sales and partners.

Take your next steps

Better rebate programs lead to stronger outcomes for B2B organizations and channel partners. With Rebate Management, a new product that you can add to your existing Salesforce CRM, reliably and transparently manage incentives and optimize your program for efficiency, loyalty, and profits.

Learn how you can get started with Salesforce Rebate Management.

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