Manufacturers and distributors can use rebates to build brand preference with partners, increase sales for specific products, and gather key data throughout the channel. However, structuring and rebate programs for the channel can be tricky. Managing them can be cumbersome. Selecting the right rebate management software is key.
So what should manufacturers and distributors look for when choosing rebate management software?
Key Features for Rebate Management Software
Below are key feature manufacturers and distributors need from their rebate management software in order to run successful programs.
- Automation to minimize manual processes – The more elements of your rebate program that can be automated – from rebate submission to fulfillment – the more successful your program will be. Manual processes increase manhours and margin for error, both of which can jeopardize your ROI.
- Complete integration with existing software platforms – Along the same lines, manufacturers and distributors cannot afford to invest in rebate management software that doesn’t integrate with their existing CRM, ERP, or other BI platforms. According to a 2019 report, poor software integrations cost businesses $500k every year – not to mention providing poor customer experiences that damage partnerships.
- The ability to run multiple promotions – Manufacturers and distributors often have different strategic initiatives for different products, different regions, and different members of their channel. Being able to structure multiple promotions is essential for B2B rebate management software.
- The ability to quickly change award parameters and payout structure – In today’s channel, it’s important to have the agility to quickly adjust to the competition’s tactics. Not only that, but priorities and market opportunities are constantly shifting. Effective rebate management software gives you the ability to change promotions on the fly.
- Data collection tools – A rebate program is an opportunity for manufacturers and distributors to gather rich data about their channel partners and end-users. According to Forrester’s Jay McBain, big data is the competitive differentiator in today’s channel. Does your rebate software give you the ability to collect, aggregate, and filter this data?
- Tools to segment your audience and assign participant types – Different members of your channel have different buying habits, different profitability, and may be more or less impactful to your rebate program ROI. The ability to segment and sort participants allows manufacturers and distributors to invest their program costs where they will produce the biggest returns.
- Sales claim submission upload and verification tools – No matter how well your rebate management software works for your business, overall participation (and program success) depends on providing engaging, user-friendly interfaces to your participants. Sales claim upload and verification tools reduce fraud and make participants more likely to submit sales claims.
- Omnichannel communication tools – A rebate program won’t be very effective if your participants aren’t aware of promotions or reminded to participate. Using omnichannel tools improve participation and give manufacturers and distributors the opportunity to market more effectively and personalize relationships with B2B buyers.
- Mobile optimization – Participants in a B2B rebate program often include dealers, contractors, and outside sales reps who are often in the field. Mobile optimization is an essential rebate software feature for a successful B2B program.
- Rebate program dashboards and advanced reports – ROI and measurable results are an important consideration for any rebate program. Manufacturers and distributors should look for software solutions that include unlimited access to dashboards and detailed program reports.
- Flexible billing options – Having different options for billing based on issuance, redemption, and accruals is an important feature so that manufacturers and distributors have flexibility for the rest of their budget.
- Multi-layer security – As a source of data, rebate programs house sensitive personal, financial, and business data (for both participants and the sponsoring company). Be sure to look for rebate management software that include multiple layers of encryption and data backup.
- Elements of gamification – While this is an optional feature, gamification is a proven tactic to increase engagement and activity. Plus, it is a way to differentiate your rebate program from your competitors.
Team Up With A Trusted Advisor For Your Rebate Program
For a successful rebate program, efficient rebate management software is just one part of the equation. Strategy, support, and consultation are equally important. Some manufacturers and distributors will also need custom programming and integrations for their program. Team up with a channel incentive company that has a proven, award-winning track record of providing all of the above!