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From left, Dennis Woodside and CEO Drew Houston of Dropbox. Photo by Bloomberg.
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Inside Dropbox’s Sales Culture

By
Steve Nellis
 |  Aug. 11, 2015 7:00 AM PDT
Photo: From left, Dennis Woodside and CEO Drew Houston of Dropbox. Photo by Bloomberg.

For the past couple of years, two competing business-to-business sales cultures have existed within Dropbox. One is the traditional wine-and-dine approach that can land big customers but brings big costs. The other is a more predictable, automated approach that focuses on finding and converting the most reliable customers, even if the individual checks are smaller.

But with last month’s appointment of Microsoft veteran Thomas Hansen as global vice president of sales and channel, Dropbox is clearly choosing to focus on one over the other, say people familiar with the company.

As a result of his hiring, several former Salesforce executives identified with the old-fashioned approach have been pushed a layer down on the organizational chart, below Mr. Hansen. And the company has sent the signal that in the future, Dropbox will put more emphasis on landing so-called “channel” deals, where partners like Japan’s Softbank and Dell help sell Dropbox for Business. At Microsoft, Mr. Hansen oversaw $6 billion to $9 billion worth of similar deals, a person familiar with the company said.

The clarified strategy shows that Dropbox, valued at $10 billion, isn’t content to push off questions about its profit potential into the indefinite future. Its success in generating a sustainable profit will determine whether it can go from being a big unicorn to an even more valuable public company.

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