CIMG Residential director reflects on how aggressive sales training put him on track
From financial planning expert to a fearless mortgage leader, Robert Oakes (pictured) has charted an extraordinary course in his career.
In this exclusive interview, the CIMG Residential Mortgage managing director opened up about his professional journey, sharing the insights and foundational principles that have propelled him to the forefront of the field.
Sales training boot camp
Oakes’ foundation in financial planning has been instrumental in shaping his career in the mortgage industry. He believes this background has given him an edge, allowing him to offer comprehensive advice to clients beyond the basic queries of house purchasing and monthly payments.
“It gave me the ability to talk to people about their overall mortgage situation. We look at other ways of structured debt, which I found very helpful,” Oakes said.
His stint at Northwestern Mutual also played a crucial role in his professional development. Oakes referred to it as his “boot camp for sales training.” He recalled the intensity of the training, which equipped him with invaluable skills that would set him apart in the mortgage business.
“It was a time of very aggressive sales training, and when I got into the mortgage industry, I was the only person, I think, for years that seemed to make sales calls in my market,” Oakes said. “Now the mortgage industry has moved more towards sales.”
Local focus vs. marketing
Oakes acknowledged that the mortgage industry has evolved, with a greater emphasis on sales today than when he initially entered the field. While marketing and social media play their part, Oakes maintains a strong focus on local markets and building relationships.
He expresses some skepticism about the over-reliance on digital tools in the industry, emphasizing the importance of direct, personal connections.
“I think marketing is more of a crutch,” Oakes said, admitting that he’s not really a marketing person. “It comes down to whether you are serving your customers the best possible way you can, serving your real estate partners and financial planners the best that you possibly can, and building relationships through that.”
Stepping out of his comfort zone, making tough sales calls, and networking effectively with realtors and financial planners have been instrumental in his journey. Oakes believes in the power of overcoming fear and the importance of aligning with the right company. His philosophy of fearlessness, combined with the support of CIMG, has been a key factor in his consistent high rankings.
Adapting to evolving customer preferences
The culture within Oakes’s team at CIMG has been a focal point of his leadership. He believes in creating and fostering a culture of excellence, which he views as essential for providing consistent, high-quality customer service.
“I think that we’ve created a culture of excellence on my team that has allowed me to provide the consistency that my customers have come to expect,” Oakes said.
Oakes noted that CIMG remains competitive by adapting to changing customer preferences. Oakes and his team have learned the importance of customer feedback in refining processes. They adjust their communication methods based on evolving customer preferences, moving from phone calls, to emails, and texts.
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“With consistency, all on our team do everything the same way so that we know what the customer experience is always going to be, and we take feedback from the customers, and we’re always tweaking the way we interact,” he said.
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