Sales Lessons From The CEO Of 6th Fastest Growing Company

The name may not excite you. While this may be a drawback for this product, besides the “me too ” sounding name, it is nothing like a sugar substitute, neither in messaging nor in experience. And that explains Michael Silver’s success in making the firm the 6th fastest growing company in the US as assessed by the Inc. 5000 survey. Just Like Sugar is not a sugar substitute. It is a sweetness substitute. Sugar is a bad substitute for sweetness, much like the other commonly available substitutes – like the pink or the blue sachets that you find at most restaurants.

In fact, I would call this product “Heartful Sweetness” or “Healthy Sweet” or something else like that. Perhaps, I would have spent a little bit of resources on marketing research to come up with a name that would make better marketing sense. Sugar is just as bad for health as the others. There is plenty of research to prove this point and most of us already know that. It does not need any proving.

But make no mistake; Mr. Michael Sylver has a whole series of marketing and sales lessons to teach. Here are a few reasons why he and his firm have done well.

1. UNBRIDLED PASSION: Nothing in this world sells like your passion does. If you are not passionate about what you do then you are undercapitalizing your own self as a sales person. Don’t sell that which you are not passionate about. Your own true beliefs attract people and lack thereof can undermine your own efforts. Trust and likeability are fundamental to any sales processes and passion supports both. The greatest salesmen have been those who have believed in the idea and talked about it with consummate passion. All religious activists substantiate the validity of this assertion. Think about it. This is the reason Mike Sylver is perhaps the best sales person that the company has.

2. DEMONSTRABLE USP: Having a USP or unique selling proposition is almost a no brainier. Of course, and obviously, that is a great strategy for growth. The issue most of firms face is their inability to do so. There are many ways to make your product or service differentiated. When bananas and meat can be differentiated anything can be. Most of firms get stuck at trying to make the core product different and ignore that a lot of other factors make a product, from packaging to marketing. There is plenty of scope and ways to differentiate your product – and it is much easier for services to do so. Mike has done that well – just like sugar is just like sugar without the harmful effect of all other sweeteners. But it is not his ability to create such a product that is the reason for his success but it is his ability to convince us of the truthfulness of his assertions. You know it as well as I that good products do not necessarily sell and those that sell need not be the best. The key word here is demonstrable. You hear Mike talk about his product and you will want to try his product. This takes us directly to the way he has been able to convince us of the value of his product.

3. VALUE FORWARD SELLING: As my friend Paul DiModica puts it most firms fail to put their value in front of them that can easily be grasped by the prospect. Instead the value remains hidden, clear to customers but untrusted by the prospects. The reason is that most firms and sales people fail to see themselves from their prospects eyes. Mike does not do that. He knows exactly what the customer wants to hear and can rattle the sales talk with ease and finesse. He developed his talking cards well in advance. There is no confusion about the value of his product, unlike most less successful firms and products or services. You can view the video of my talk with Mike and learn for yourself what I mean. Visit

4. BUSINESS STRATEGY: Unlike many others who peddle their ware, he has a business strategy. He is not selling sugar substitutes. He is selling public health. He is not going after the end user. He is going after the major decision influencers. He does not plan to sell sugar substitute to major player like coke at huge discounts. He intends for them to want to use his products. He is not just making sachets. He intends to create a movement towards healthy sweets within his low hanging segment of the market. He is thinking strategically when he is going after schools boards and evangelists. In a sense his channel partners will do his bidding.

5. LEVERAGED PR: His alacrity to use PR is amazing. He will help you, if you can help someone else he wants to help too. That is his lever. Mike is a consummate public relations man. It seems that he might take his firm from zero to billion without spending any money and that seems to be happening now rather than too far in the future. The beauty of his approach is that he does not come across as a PR person but rather than as an engineer or a scientist who has just discovered this great product based on his passion for the rainforests and the deteriorating health of Americans at large. What can be more empowering PR campaign than the discovery of an innocent discovery? Well it was not an innocent discovery – we soon learn. Mike is the master of highlighting. That you care and have passion is not sufficient. You must have a communication strategy as well to be successful. Mike’s communication strategy is PR. If he were writing music, being on the Oprah show will be a crescendo that he is planning on. After all, he is not selling sugar substitutes. He is selling public health.

The one thing that I recommend for Mike is the one thing that got Obama elected. The web 2.0 tide is going to be in full swing soon and his boat is not parked yet. Just like sugar has the potential to be a major phenomenon very quickly by crafting a Web 2.0 strategy using social media, online evangelists, and creating a community of digital health workers. It is not easy to do but is doable. It needs to be done strategically but his business is most amenable to the phenomenon of voice of the people in the digital world. The same astute thinking that Mike has used for PR is required to create social buzz as well – thoughtfully and methodically. He can begin with the website and by giving his voice a digital flavor. One caveat… There are a lot of people touting their paint brushes, and easels, and other painting tools. Please don’t get deceived or bedazzled but them. Paints and paint brushes do not a painting make. All of us have great camera’s these day but do not come near the photographic artistry of decades ago that was done without all the technology.

Nick Vaidya is the Managing Partner of The 8020Strategy Group, the President of the Global Alliance of CEO’s, and the Managing Editor of The CEO Entrepreneur Magazine ( At this site you can find videos of CEO level discussions, reviews of books, journal articles, events, and organizations. The magazine promotes collaboration among CEO’s, and aims to inform / inspire the community towards making better businesses decisions. Nick’s consulting practice focuses on business profitability management and he works with, both large and midsized technology driven firms, including firm like Microsoft, Dell, Ebay, Qwest, IBM, and other mid sized firms. He has been a senior advisor with the Chairman’s Strategy Team at a Fortune 100 firm and was responsible for managing the profitability of almost half the company. His career includes sales, marketing, and advertising. He was a graduate faculty at Texas A&M University and did his graduate and doctoral work there, in business and in psychometrics. For keynote addresses, workshops, and consulting engagements, he can be reached at or 512 257 7868.