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How GM Patrick Abad revamped sales engagement with one powerful change

In recent years dealerships have accelerated their technology to better deliver the best possible sales and service experiences. Today on Inside Automotive, we’re joined by Patrick Abad, the General Manager of Beaver Toyota of Cumming, to learn more about a game-changing switch he made within his operation this year.

Abad’s dealership is the number one Toyota store in Georgia right now. When asked how he achieved that amid the current industry environment, Abad says they have done a “good job of attacking volume.” He says the cars are coming back slowly, and his dealership does a considerable amount of pre-sold business right now, at around 375-400 used cars a month, often with as few as ten vehicles on the lot.

Abad said he realized that growing and managing the used car business was one way to combat current inventory shortages. “Used cars is the one department that touches all departments,” he explains.

Abad’s dealership recently switched Customer Relationship Management systems (CRMs), a task he said often isn’t an easy undertaking at a high-volume store with 40 salespeople. He points out that changing CRMs is one of the most significant changes you can make in a dealership because the CRM houses so much data. Abad says that transition can scare people that are used to doing things a certain way.

Abad realized over the years that CRMs had all been somewhat the same until DriveCentric came along. He says DriveCentric is not the traditional CRM and likens the improvements to the difference between using a map vs. GPS. He says you used to have maps in books that you would need to flip through to find your way somewhere—for Abad, switching to DriveCentric was like when GPS first came out.

“The reality is you have to create efficiencies for your people,” Abad says. And although he wasn’t looking for a new CRM, when he heard how great of an engagement tool DriveCentric is for salespeople, he knew it was the right thing to do. Abad believes his first priority is removing obstacles so that his people can improve. Abad believes DriveCentric’s capabilities as an engagement tool for front-line salespeople set it apart from competitors.

Abad says DriveCentric makes everything simple (you can do everything right from a mobile phone), so his sales team actually wants to use it. Compare that to other CRMs, which are desktop driven, and it’s easy to see the advantages. When employees need to engage with a customer, they can do so from anywhere, even during lunch or when they’re away from the dealership. “They don’t have to race back to the desktop,” Abad explains.

Abad also says DriveCentric makes it easier for managers to enact accountability and oversight. He explains that salespeople can virtually raise their hand if they need help, tag a manager with the click of a button, and quickly involve them in the conversation. Abad loves how every piece of communication goes into a single thread, allowing managers access to every discussion in real-time. If there’s a problem, leadership can interject and course-correct on the spot.

Dealerships often need tremendous support when switching to a new CRM, but Abad says the great thing about DriveCentric is its simplicity. “You don’t quite need the support, but it’s there,” he explains.

As for his favorite feature, Abad loves the intuitive video and live stream capabilities. DriveCentric features a go-live tool, allowing salespeople to send customers a link, enabling them to walk the car together digitally. Abad says it takes a conversation that previously could take as long as three hours and speeds it up into a 15-minute interaction while simultaneously building trust with the customer.

When asked what he would say to dealers who might be on the fence about changing CRMs, Abad says, “Do you want to catch up to where the business already is, or do you want to sit back and wait?” He explains that the COVID-19 pandemic helped speed things up regarding the transition to digital sales and technologies within the industry. In his opinion, the biggest job of dealership owners is to offer their people the best tools to manage that.


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