With the wealth of advertising options every realtor has at their disposal, it can be difficult to wrap your head around what approaches work, what approaches don’t work, and where your time and money will work the hardest for your business. As a realtor, you likely have sales reps from lead gen companies, branding companies, newspapers and online magazines all contacting you and trying to get you to buy their services. So who should you listen to? My advice is to hear them all out; it’s important to not only know what’s out there, but understand how it all works in order to make savvy business decisions moving forward. On that note, let’s take a look at some of the popular methods and how they work.
So this might be a bit of a broad term, but branded marketing for realtors mainly encompasses flyers and other mail outs, bus bench ads, billboard ads, radio, as well as hard copy and online magazines. They all sound great, right? Well, I would venture to argue otherwise; let me explain why. Branded marketing is very costly. If you think that you can run one branded marketing campaign and get results from it, you’d better guess again. Branded marketing is a long term approach that must be committed to for a minimum of 6-12 months if you hope to gain any traction. The whole idea with this form of marketing is to put your brand out into the public eye, repeatedly and consistently. One month just won’t cut it, as the likelihood of an active buyer or seller seeing one ad of yours and choosing to contact you, is extremely slim. The idea is to shove your branding down their throats. Now, that may seem bad, but why else would someone contact you? You want people to see so many of your ads that when they are ready to buy or sell, they automatically think of you. So that’s all fine and dandy, but it’s very costly. One billboard or bus bench add, depending on location, can easily run you anywhere from $500 – $1500 a month. Sending out thousands of flyers can run thousands of dollars. And you’d have to do this for months on end, all the while hoping that someone contacts you. Seems pretty risky and very costly, no?
A Better Solution: Consider Tag Marketing. Tag Marketing is more targeted then any of the other forms of branded marketing, and a fraction of the cost. With tag ads, or “re-targeting”, anyone visiting your website, will get “tagged” with an advertisement of yours that follows them to 90% of the websites that they visit for 90 days after leaving your site. Agent Locator sells 8000 impressions a month for a mere $50. That is around a half a penny per impression. To send out 8000 mail outs can easily run you over $1000. With mail outs, bus bench, billboard, print etc, you are targeting a community and hoping that active buyers and sellers see it. With Tag Marketing, you only advertise to people who visit your website, which means you are targeting only active buyers and sellers, provided you are marketing your website correctly. More importantly, it’s not a flyer they throw out, it’s not a bus bench where they sit on your face, and it’s not a billboard they drive by and pay no mind to. This ad follows the lead around the internet for 3 months, meaning they see you multiple times a day/week/month, and you’re branding is having an impact on them whether or not they even recognize it.
Key Points: Tag marketing is a fraction of the cost, more targeted, and it meets the “consistency requirements” that a branded marketing campaign should entail.
Door Knocking and Cold Calling:
Some of you hate it, some of you love it. Door knocking and cold calling are two of the safest routes you can take to generate leads, provided you commit to it; it requires zero financial commitment and puts your success in your own hands. Whether or not you enjoy it, it works. With that said, it’s not for everyone. Some agents excel in a “sales oriented” approach, whereas some agents get nervous at the prospect. If you fall into the latter category, I would strongly encourage you to reanalyze your approach, and try to tackle your fears. At the end of the day, whether you like it not you are in sales. Real estate is sales. You need to put yourself out there and make connections. With that said, there are alternatives to door knocking and cold calling. More importantly, even if you excel with these two methods, there may be a better option. An option that frees up your time and puts you in touch with more qualified candidate’s right from the get go:
A Better Solution: Consider online lead generation. For some of you, the very thought might be enough to turn you away running. Good, that leaves more business for the rest of us. Online lead generation works if you are an agent who understands the concept and commits to the follow up. In comparison to cold calling or door knocking, it’s a far better solution, provided you have the funds to invest. With cold calling and door knocking, you are contacting a trade zone repeatedly in hopes of finding an active buyer or seller who actually takes the time to hear you out and consider your services. So you are searching for intent before you can even sell them on using you. With online leads, the lead has already shown intent. They’ve shown you that they are an active buyer or seller by typing in real estate specific key words on Google, Yahoo or Bing, and registering on a lead capture form. So the “prospecting” portion of cold calling or door knocking has already been handled for you. You’re only need at this point, is to follow up and get the lead to work with you versus another agent. The only requirement for online lead gen is startup funds. Once you start closing business from the campaign, the system pays for itself tenfold. So instead of spending your precious time and efforts cold calling and door knocking, you are spending a little bit of money to free up your time. In turn, you are getting inquiries from real buyers and sellers, and you only have to worry about the follow up.
Where Does This Leave You?
I’m not saying not to do mailouts, and I’m not saying not to cold call. In fact, I think the best agents utilize a combination of all of the services outlined in this article. But in an industry where time and money investment can be difficult, it’s best for agents to maximize each resource and focus their efforts where they will get the most results. For agents who don’t have a ton of time on their hands, focus on online lead generation. For agents who don’t have a ton of money, invest your time in door knocking and cold calling. In terms of branded marketing, that is best saved for a point in your career where you can afford to pump the money into your branding without needing a return. Tag Marketing is the best alternative, and also something that the agents who have money to invest should utilize. Food for thought!
Here’s a great referral script by Referral Guru Joe Stumpf
“When a family member, friend, or neighbor needs advice about buying, selling or borrowing, please don’t keep me a secret because you want them to get the best possible results and be delighted that you introduced us – don’t you?”
Many agents ask us, when to give up on your leads. Well the answer is NEVER.
Your objective is to find out where they are in the process. Do they have plans of moving in the future?
Here is a great script from Beverley Balance.
This is YOUR NAME
So I’m kinda a blast from the past. A couple years ago you had registered on my website looking for homes in CITY area. We never were able to connect and I was just wondering if you were still in the market or whats going on in your life in regards to a home purchase is concerned.
Since you’re in my database, do you have any future plans, do you want us to attempt to update you on what is happening in the CITY market.
Expired Listing Scripts: For When They Answer
SCRIPT 1: “Hi, I’m looking for _____________. This is John Smith with ABC Realty, and I’m calling because, as I’m sure you’ve figured out, your home has come up as an expired listing. So I’m calling to see when you plan on hiring the right agent to sell your home?”
SCRIPT 2: “Hi, I’m John Smith with ABC Realty, and I’m calling about the house that was listed in the multiple listing service that expired, and I wanted to interview for the job of getting your home back on the market and sold. I’d like to show you the techniques I use to get my listings sold.”
SCRIPT 3: “Hi this is John Smith with ABC Realty, and I noticed that your listing on 123 Pepperwood Court is no longer active. I wanted to see if you are going to take this opportunity to interview a different agent. If so, I’d love to share my marketing methods for getting homes sold quickly.”
Expired Listing Scripts: For Leaving Voice Messages
SCRIPT 1: “I’m calling about your home for sale. My number is 555-123-4567.”
SCRIPT 2: “Hi this is John Smith and I’m calling about the house you had listed in the multiple listing service, and I’d like to talk to you about the house. Would you please call me back as soon as possible? Call me at 555-123-4567.”
SCRIPT 3: ” Hello this John Smith with ABC Realty and I’m calling about your listing that is no longer on the market. If you are interested in taking this opportunity to interview a different agent, call me at 555-123-4567.”
Overcoming Objections: “We’re Not Putting it Back on the Market”
LINE of QUESTIONING:
1. “Really? Well if it sold, where were you moving to?”
2. “How soon do you want to be there?”
3. “What do you think stopped it from selling?”
4. “If I were to present you with a strong offer to purchase your home, would you be still be willing to at least take a look at it?”
5. “Well that’s exactly what I would like to talk to you about. What would be the best time for me to quickly drop by, 4:00 today or tomorrow?”
If home sellers are reluctant to list their property on the market for sale until they find a home to buy, use our REALTOR Script below to help alleviate their concerns.”
1. “It’s important to understand that we are in a fast moving real estate market where homes sell quickly, often with multiple offers competing to purchase them. Have you heard about this in the news media or around town yet?”
2. “Assuming that you don’t want to have two mortgages at once, for you to buy a new home you would have to first sell your current home. Correct?”
3. “The reason people generally don’t try to find another home before listing their homes for sale is that any offer they make to purchase another home will have to be contingent on the sale of their current home. In a market when listings are selling fast with multiple offers, no knowledgeable agent would advise a seller to ever accept a contingent offer. Otherwise they would have to worry about your house selling too. Does that make sense?”
4. “What worries me is that you will find the house you love, and then we will lose the house to a competing offer from another buyer because our offer was contingent upon the sale of your current home. There is an increased likelihood of this happening when homes that you like are priced well too. A contingent buyer is effectively limited to less desirable homes that are priced above market. Do you see how this could be a concern?”
5. “Well the good news is that homes are currently selling in large numbers, and the majority of those buyers and sellers are people that have a home to sell before they can buy. Do you want to know how they are doing it?”
6. “When listing your home for sale it takes some time to get the home ready for sale and listed publicly online, then agents and buyers will need to view it, and ultimately we will start to receive and negotiate offers. Since it isn’t until we accept any offers on the sale of your home that we are forced to make any decisions, you actually have a long period of time to search for and find a home. Far longer than it takes the average buyer to find a home to purchase. Plus, having your home on the market will make us more purposeful and efficient in your search going forward. The vast majority of my clients surprise themselves and find a home with plenty of time to spare. Can you see that a little clearer now?”
7. “Even if we aren’t able to find you a new home before you receive offers on your current house, we still have plenty of options to extend our time in our negotiations over these offers by: (1) Negotiating a longer closing period; (2) Negotiating a lease-back from buyers after closing; or (3) Rejecting the offers altogether. Remember that this is a seller’s market, so you hold the most cards in negotiations. And it is pretty rare to not be able to negotiate a longer closing period in this real estate market. And I can’t remember hearing of anyone having to reject offers because they couldn’t find a home to buy. Does this sound good to you?”
Big city real estate in Canada has been on a seemingly unstoppable upwards trajectory. Cities like Toronto and Vancouver have been riding at the top of this wave and are currently seeing the highest average home cost in Canada, by a long shot. The average price point for all types of homes in Toronto is $758,369 as of October 2016, whereas the average price point for all types of homes in Vancouver is a whopping $919,300 for the same time period. These both mark massive increases when compared to October of last year, and the average cost of home has been accelerating at a rate that far exceeds that of inflation.
In response to the consistent increased pricing across all major Canadian markets, Canada just released new mortgage rules meant to help tame the market. These new rules will essentially limit the amount of home someone can purchase by implementing a stress test designed to predict whether or not a potential home buyer will be able to pay off their lone in the event that interest rates rise, or that they encounter personal financial hardship. The test will require potential home owners to qualify at the Bank of Canada’s posted rate of 4.64 percent rather than the typical 2.5 percent being offered. As a result, people will essentially be able to afford less property than they would have without the stress test. In theory, this is meant to prevent Canadians from taking on too much debt, and to prevent our economy from entering a financial crisis. The idea is that this will even out the market over time.
Ok, so what’s the issue? The issue is that home prices are already out of control, and now that new home buyers can essentially afford a lot less property due to the stress test, it’s almost impossible for many to buy in the city. On paper, this will change with time. But so far, that’s just on paper; despite the new mortgage rules, Toronto continued to see an upwards trajectory in the month of October. So for the time being, buyers may need to look outside of the city to find their dream home. Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be many online tools available to aid a home buyer in this process…until now.
How Much of a Home Can You Afford?
I am the CEO of Agent Locator, the biggest lead generation company in Canada. We have a wealth of incredible tools to offer our clients, and the list of features is set to continue to grow. Our goal is constant innovation, and with that goal in mind, we will be releasing a new landing page that will help home buyers to find the best home in the best location that they can realistically afford. Buyers in Toronto are struggling with home prices and have been looking outside of the city as a result. The new tool will allow buyers to find homes based on how far they are willing to drive to the office. The feature is currently in its developmental stage, and is set to be released by the end of 2016.
How Will it Work?
The finalized process is still being tweaked, but the idea is to ask a variety of questions that will allow us to present options to the buyer. For example, we will ask the buyers:
How much can you afford to spend on a home?
What is your office address?
What time do you have to be at work by?
How long are you willing to drive to work?
Do you want to avoid Toll Routes?
Once this information is submitted by the client, the system will use a mathematical algorithm alongside Google Maps live traffic data in order to figure out how far outside of the city the lead can look for a home. At this stage, we already have part of the code developed, and we’ve been testing the accuracy of the map polygon. I’m excited to say, it works like a charm.
A feature like this will help agents and home buyers in the big cities where the cost of homes has gotten way out of control. Now, Agent Locator clients will have yet another tool at their disposal that will not only help them to capture fresh new leads, but allow them to provide their clients with a unique and helpful tool that is truly one of a kind. I couldn’t be more excited to release this feature to our loyal and incredible client base.
You may have been contacted in the past by a brokerage who promised to feed you internet leads. If considering this as an option, do yourself a favor & have a read prior to making the switch.
Being the CEO of an online lead generation company, I want to be the first to tell you, “Internet leads are mostly garbage”. OK, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s talk about what you can expect from online leads & these lead providing brokerages.
You have a 90% chance of being taken off leads within the first 4 months
Most agents who try their hand at online leads fail within the very first 4 months. This isn’t because you aren’t good at what you do; it’s because you don’t know how to work Internet leads. If you did, you most certainly wouldn’t be joining a brokerage that feeds you leads; you would source your own.
Be prepared to pay up to a 60% commission split
You have to understand that funding a lead generation campaign is expensive for an office. First, they have to deal with a high turnover (90% of agents are fired in the first 4 months). Second, they have to work with very low conversion rates; most agents who try to work online leads convert only 1.5% of all the leads they receive. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not here to justify their split, I’m just saying that if you want internet leads don’t expect to get them for free. The big take home here is this: if you generate your own online leads, your cost per deal closing as an average agent will be much less than paying up to 60% of your commission to the brokerage. So the leads given to you from a brokerage may not come at an upfront cost, but by the time the deal is done, you’ve paid thousands of dollars more to close that deal vs simply sourcing the lead yourself.
Unless you maintain the expected conversion level, you’ll be fired
Even if you are among the 10% who end up keeping their position in the lead distribution program, you’ll be fired if you can’t keep up with the closing percentage that they expect moving forward.
Let’s take a closer look at the numbers
Now, let’s say you aren’t fired. Great! This means you’re closing business regularly. But what you’re really doing is making your office money, and taking a major hit on your own income. Tying into my point about paying a commission split: Just imagine how much money you would have made had you sourced the leads yourself? Sourcing your own leads and closing as an average agent will have a cost per deal under $1000, whereas working off a commission split can easily bring your cost per deal to $5000 – $10 000 i.e. if you work off a 50/50 commission split and close a deal that sources $20 000 commission, you’ve just paid your brokerage $10 000 for that deal.
The bottom line is your office shouldn’t be involved with your marketing or lead sourcing. If they are, you should be paying for that marketing; it should never come out of your commission.
I think offices need do a better job in vetting the companies that they choose to work with. Too many companies tend to take advantage of the agents who don’t understand how online lead gen works. It can be difficult for an office to understand how a company works without actually trying the company out themselves. With that said, I think that a company who has been around for long enough tends to stand out. Agents start to talk about how they were treated, and this word of mouth can speak volumes with regards to a company’s worth.
Before you get into online leads here is what you need to know:
- Your cost per lead is dependent on the city you are targeting. The average cost per lead across all Canadian & US cities is $12/lead. Here is a fairly accurate chart of costs per lead in Canada http://alleads.wehelp.ca
- You need to call the lead as soon as you get it. Preferably within 5 minutes of the lead coming in.
- You need to keep calling the lead until you get a hold of them. Some agents keep calling at different times in the day for up to 2 weeks. I’ve also heard the expression “I keep calling until they buy or die.”
- Once you get a hold of them figure out what stage of the buying process they are in and what their motivation is. Once you have that you can set a proper follow-up. We will either keep on them to meet or set a long-term follow up.
- Anywhere from 20% to 40% of all the leads you get will be completely fake.
- Leads that you are calling don’t know that you will be calling them, we have a good idea that they are looking to buy/sell but they don’t expect a call from you.
- Most agents convert at 1.5%. There are agents that convert at much higher percentages, but you shouldn’t expect that to be the case on your first attempt. Learn the processes and projections, and trust in the numbers using the 1.5% closing percentage as your base.
There are plenty of companies that offer online lead generation. As I mentioned, I am the CEO of one of them, but you need to do your research. Explore what’s out there. Here is an up to date list with a few of the top lead gen companies:
http://www.AgentLocator.ca – My company, we’re based out of Mississauga Canada & bill in Canadian dollars.
http://www.RealEstateWebmasters.com – A company out of Nanaimo Canada, bill in US dollars.
https://www.commissionsinc.com/ – A company based out of Atlanta USA, bill in US dollars.
http://boomtownroi.com/ – A company based out of Charleston USA, bill in US dollars.
What it means to be a real estate agent in 2016 is very different from what it meant 20 years ago, or 10 years ago…or even 5 years ago. For better or for worse, technology has seen incredible advancements over the last 10-20 years, and it’s had an effect on how we all do business. Realistically, unless you’re an agent who has been in business for 20+ years and has a massive sphere of influence, you should be harnessing online leads as a medium to drive yearly sales. With that said, we aren’t all able to pump money into our business right from the start. What’s more is that some of us may find it difficult to excel with online generated leads. But with the online world being the first place people go when wanting to buy or sell their home, this leaves the agents who aren’t harnessing online lead gen at a disadvantage. So what can these agents do to keep up with the pack and reach their yearly sales quotas? Thankfully, there is still a wealth of approaches that an agent can take to source business. If you don’t have the startup funds to jump into online lead gen, here are a handful of methods that you should be implementing:
Pick up that phone
Cold calling is an old school method that works. It has been around for decades as we know it, and surely existed in some way, shape or form prior to the industrialization and commercialization of our modern society. Simply put, if you want business, ask for it. Pick up that phone and start dialing out. The more connections you make the better. As you can almost certainly imagine, most people won’t answer, and most of those who do answer won’t give you the time of day. That’s all part of the game. Keep pushing and dialing out, and you’ll connect with the leads that matter. Be polite, but persistent. This is something you can do from home, the office; anywhere with a phone.
Knock on some doors
Going hand in hand with cold calling is door knocking. This is another decades old method that many agents these days choose to ignore. It may not be the most fun way to source your business (or maybe it is depending on your personality), but getting out there and meeting people face to face is one of the best ways to spread word and source leads. Unlike advertisements that bombard our everyday life, people remember a face; especially if you left them with a good impression. Generally speaking, just like cold calling most people will not answer their doors, or will try to brush you off. But remember, it doesn’t matter what method you’re using to source your business: It’s all a numbers game. Sooner or later, you’ll connect with the person looking to sell, and that will make it all worthwhile. In real estate, the name of the game is quality, not quantity. One important aspect to remember when door knocking: give the lead a reason to open up to you. The lead already knows why you’re there: you want to sell their home. So when you connect with someone, make it about them; ask them when they bought their home, if they know how much homes are selling for in their area, offer to send them updates when their neighbors sell. Entice them with value, not a business card.
Network Network Network!
Business is all about networking. Again, advertisements are a dime a dozen. What sets your billboard sign apart from your competitors; a fancier logo? Maybe. But what really sets you apart is how you interact with the people you encounter in your day to day. Networking will spread word of mouth for your business a lot faster than anything else. People listen to people, and if you’ve impressed someone with any sort of influence, their influence will have a positive effect on your business. Networking will also open up more doors for you in terms of valuable marketing initiatives, partners and affiliates, and insights from other successful agents and business people. Moreover, consistent networking will yield more referrals; again, people listen to people.
Add Content to Your Website
So maybe you don’t have the money to pump into an online lead gen campaign, but I’m not saying to ignore technology all together. That’s a one way ticket to hell, and a sure fire way to failure. Your ultimate goal should be to do online lead gen. Believe it or not, it’s a lot less effort to follow up with online leads vs cold calling, door knocking etc. With an online lead, yes it’s a numbers game, but at least that lead has already shown intent to buy or sell, and you’re only goal is to get them to use you. With cold calling and door knocking, you’re searching for the intent before you can even try to convince the lead to use you. I hope this much is clear. With that said, you should still be harnessing technology prior to the point of actually taking on an online lead gen campaign. You should have a really nice website that showcases your accolades, but more importantly, is a one stop shop of information for buyers and sellers. But having the nice website is unfortunately only half the battle. The other half is getting that website to pop up on Google. If someone Google’d your name, it’s likely that your website will pop up (unless your name is Jane Smith). But what if someone typed in generic key words, like “homes for sale Toronto” for example? Getting your site to pop up then is much more difficult. Ultimately, SEO is the service that may accomplish this. But SEO can be just as expenses (or more) as an online lead gen campaign using Google PPC, and half as lucrative; it’s time consuming and volatile, and may never work. What you can try instead, is adding regular content to your website. Content plays a major role in SEO and being found on Google. You will not see drastic movement overnight by adding regular content, but you can certainly see some movement with time. Adding weekly blog posts, community write ups, testimonials etc, will all help. At very least, it will show anybody considering you as an option that you are a professional and knowledgeable agent; if you have regular blog posts, details about communities and more content that will help a lead to buy or sell, then that lead will see value in hiring you.
So there you have it folks! Leads don’t grow on trees, and businesses don’t build themselves. You absolutely must invest time, or money, or both into your business. If you don’t have the money to invest in your business, you have the time. Get to it!
I came across this amazing article written by Mike Cuevas. In the article tailored towards seller scripts he emphasizes the need to build rapport with the sellers and not go through an actual script. It is my belief that when speaking with a seller there are a few questions that you need answers to. Do not speak to the potential seller as though you are doing a survey. Figure out what answers are most important to you and work it in to the conversation. Below are the top 4 questions, Mike Cuevas believes you need to have answered.
- Are you familiar with what’s going on in the market right now?- Most people have no idea exactly how the market is doing right now. I love giving potential sellers a ”birds eye view” of the market because it allows you to show off expertise and share some valuable insight. Just be honest. If the market is shitty tell them that. If the market is awesome tell them that. It’s by far the best way to build trust and gain authority right away.
- Are you aware of how important market time is?- I love this question because I already know most sellers have no idea, which then allows me to give them a mini listing presentation on the phone by explaining how we position houses for sale. The point I want to make here is that I am a marketer who happens to have a real estate license and not the other way around. This will allow you to explain the 3 ways to properly position a house for sale. This build instant authority. I wrote another article on this subject and encourage you to read it because we can go on forever here. It’s called 3 Things You Must Talk About In Every Listing Presentation. This is your seller script. I also wrote it on my local real estate blog here you can check out The 3 Ways To Position Your House For Sale.
- Have you prepared a net sheet?- This is the big one that will separate you from the rest. I am amazed at how many agents do not do this as a service even after they are hired. One of the things that sellers love most is when you offer to provide them with a net sheet because it’s something many of them have not yet thought about. What do you think is more important to a seller, what the house sells for or what they walk away with? This gives them an accurate dollar amount of their net figure after all closing costs based on an estimate sales price. It’s a great service to offer a stranger or referral and they will love you for it. It shows you are going out of your way to help them understand what they will be walking away with at closing. This also gives you a reason to call them back and follow up with them if the initial call did not lead to an appointment. HINT: getting closing costs also allows you to ask questions about the house and give them a CMA at the same time doesn’t it?
- Are you looking to buy another house after you sell this one and if so do you have to sell to buy?- I love this question because the selling and buying at the same time process is so tricky you know that they cannot do it on their own. Every time I point this out to a seller lead it leads to a longer conversation which allows them to see the need to hire a professional. I would spend the whole phone call on this question and explain how to buy and sell at the same time. Regardless of the conversation it will always lead to a face-to-face meeting because it has to be mapped out in person. You might want to also check out this article 7 Steps To Selling & Buying A House At The Same Time. This is your seller script.
The overall point here is that if you focus all of your seller scripting around these questions to ask your conversation will go much smoother and you will be serving instead of selling. You will now be leading the conversation with an open ear giving very insightful authority building information that sellers are attracted to.
1. HOW DID YOU GET MY NUMBER? Google. (Proceed to the next question)
2. I AM GOING TO LIST WITH A FAMILY MEMBER, FRIEND, CO WORKER Are you looking to do (….) a favor or are you looking to sell your home? (Proceed to the next question)
3. DO YOU HAVE A BUYER FOR MY HOME? I wish that I did, that would make both of our lives a lot easier. (Proceed to the next question)
4. DID YOU SHOW MY HOME WHEN IT WAS LISTED? No. How many showings did you have when the home was listed? Great (Proceed to the next question)
5. I JUST BOUGHT THIS HOUSE I’m sorry about that. Is there a number that would make you move today?
6. I’VE ALREADY FOUND AN AGENT Have you signed a contract already? Yes- We wish you all the best