Tackling the rebate headache in animal health
For manufacturers in the animal health sector, effective rebate management is key to ensuring consistent sales performance and customer loyalty. For many, the rebate model equates to a large proportion of outgoing expenditure, offering valuable discounts for customers.
However, few would argue that the process is pain-free. Get it wrong and it’s an expensive mistake.
“Simply put, the rebate process in the animal health sector can be a real headache,” says Richard Sibbit, Managing Director of Animal Health at Proagrica. “Many businesses are pouring huge resources into rebate management, but still finding the process needlessly complex. What’s worse, many rebate management operations are prone to human error and miscommunication – potentially resulting in a significant financial impact.
By making the rebate process real-time, cash flow can be significantly improved as the manufacturer needs to do less forecasting on future sales and therefore rebates. Getting accurate, real-time, integrated data only increases accuracy – couple that with powerful rebate tools and the whole process becomes a pain free experience.”
A different way
What if there was a better system for managing rebates? A solution that not only integrates real-time data but also offers a manufacturer all the tools to manage each step in the rebate process. Establishing a system that manages the multitude of pricing schemes, engages your customers in the contract process and provides a full audit trail in the calculation process ultimately aids in driving customer loyalty, greater visibility, and eliminating costly errors.
Effective rebate management must go beyond simply processing figures and invoices. Instead, it’s necessary to embrace a system that also encompasses better business performance and compliance, turning the rebate process into a valuable opportunity for all parties.
Effective rebate scheme management – also known as pricing management – is where it all begins. Providing customers with the tools to model, forecast and create these schemes and to manage the authorization processes ensures complete financial control. Whether you’re setting up rebate schemes covering multiple product groups, in season marketing promotions, customer price adjustments or overrides to schemes or discounts, effective management of sign-off and authorization is a fundamental first step.
Gaining commitment from rebate scheme customers – whether they are forward looking contracts or marketing promotions – is a task that your field force should be able to execute quickly and effectively. Providing these sales teams with mobile tools to discuss and commit to contracts and place orders on in-season offers is fundamental. The engagement process should be transparent on both sides – especially in a business environment where face-to-face time is limited and gaining commitment is critical.
Richard commented, “We have seen that sales force enablement is crucial, allowing your sales teams to discuss commitment and contracts, be able to order products on in-season offers and promotions and provide other marketing and product materials. The process should be engaging, easy and transparent to all.”
The largest headache for any customer is the processing of rebates – the processing of sales data against customer commitments and complex rebate schemes. Coupled with that is the forever changing landscape of corporatization changes, consolidation of businesses, price changes, scheme changes, buying group commitments, incorrect data. Providing a customer with a rebate processing tool that allows checkpoints, data rollback, audit trail and traceability is key.
“Master data management of products and customers is a given with this solution,” says Richard.
“But unless you provide the tools for a customer to trace rebate calculations, to amend data relationships, to add overrides and adjustments and to roll back scenarios then you open your business up to financial control issues and mistrust from your customers. This ever-increasing headache ultimately becomes a data nightmare.”
Richard adds: “Preventing miscommunication and as a result boosting customer loyalty is a huge benefit when companies create a more engaging and intuitive experience”.
By pushing the visibility of the rebate process into the hands of sales teams, it allows them to access information and discuss current commitment levels and rebate status, often stimulating further conversations on higher commitment with customers. It makes the process more transparent and visible for all.
Creating a loyalty portal can deliver all these benefits. Rebates can take many forms – discounts, payments, loyalty points, vouchers, but whatever approach fits your business, create a loyalty scheme for customers to use an online loyalty portal and see beyond the latest invoice. Complete payment history and performance, rebate purchase modeling, net pricing – whatever your business and customers require can be generated onscreen. This helps users monitor their own performance, incentivizing them to stay on target and achieve higher goals to reach further discounts. It also provides a fantastic marketing opportunity: you’ve created an online space that you can guarantee customers will visit regularly.
Ending the headache
By allowing all parties access to a suite of rebate tools, accurate master data management, visibility and traceability in the rebate supply chain, a pain-free rebate management process becomes possible. Whether you have data issues, system issues, or visibility and accuracy issues – these are all fundamental pieces in the rebate toolbox for animal health and are all solvable.
“A step-change is required to end the animal health rebate headache,” adds Richard Sibbit. “A business that has rebate data passed to them is often unlikely to have the correct tools to interpret the data. As a result, they can’t offer their customers and teams the right engagement tools. They will be the ones dreading the monthly rebate run and be inundated with customer complaints about inaccurate calculations. Embracing a connectivity solution ends the headache associated with rebates and starts generating value for all businesses in the animal health marketplace.”