Future Fifty ran a masterclass in partnership with Milltown Partners and Dropbox where we heard from Philip Lacor, VP EMEA, and Ross Piper, VP Sales EMEA, who shared their successes and learnings from their time at Dropbox and their career as a whole.

Background

Dropbox, was founded in 2007 and now has over 500 million users and 200,000 businesses using their service.

Philip runs Dropbox in EMEA – He has been responsible for driving the internationalisation, expansion and sales progress in the region as Dropbox has pivoted from a consumer to a B2B business. Philip is a veteran of both start-ups and larger enterprises – including Vodafone, Dell and GE.

Ross has led Dropbox’s strategy to grow Dropbox’s customer base from 100,000 to more than 200,000 businesses. Previously SVP of Enterprise Strategy at Salesforce.com, Ross now drives Dropbox’s B2B sales growth with large enterprise businesses.

Key Takeaways

Takeaway 1 – Hiring the right people – “Traits Matter”

For both Philip and Ross, there are two parts to hiring:

1) Looking at someone’s traits,

2) Their culture fit. Experience is not as important for them because, as Philipp explained, they’re picking from a small pool of people which represents only around 5% of the population. These are ‘The Hunters’ – “the CEOs of their deals”. They have the traits for the job, regardless of their experience.

“You can hire people who have no sales experience but who have the right traits” – Philip

The traits of The Hunters:

  1. Tenacity
  2. Resiliency
  3. Curiosity – learning ability
  4. Self-Awareness – being humble and a team player

Takeaway 2 – Having the right team in place is just as important as having a great product

“you can’t just have a great product, hire people and expect it to sell”. These need to be the right people.

For Dropbox, hiring their sales team is not about finding people who are driven by making money, it’s about finding people who want to be there for the growth of the business.

When it comes to keeping your staff, both agreed that it all comes down to offering people a career path and learning and development opportunities. “Your role as the employer is to create to right environment.”

Takeaway 3 – Generating Leads – “Stories drive interest”

  1. Start with your value proposition because, as Philip noted, “if you can’t clearly articulate your value proposition, then you have a problem.”
  2. Know which leads to pursue. Use data and intelligence from offering your product free or trial to then assess those leads.
  3. “A lead is dead within 48 hours” – Don’t waste money generating leads which you don’t have the capacity to follow up with.
  4. Stories drive interest and therefore help lead generation. Especially those that locally relevant. So, “cultivate the best stories you’ve got, that will make you unique.”
  5. PR + Events + Online. From his time at Salesforce, Ross shared the company’s three pillars to lead generations: PR drives EVENTS which drives ONLINE.

Takeaway 4 – Expansion

“Establish yourself REALLY well before expanding.”

Where to next? One of the benefits of being a self-service engine such as Dropbox is that you can be in any country you want. However, through their years of experience, both Philipp and Ross have learnt not to expand into too many countries too fast. So if you’re thinking about expansion, here’s their advice:

  1. Find a scaling model
  2. Do deals over the phone – “don’t underestimate the power of inside sales”
  3. Limit yourself to core countries – based on the sales you have been making

Once you do decide to expand into a new count – the two most important hires in that market are:

  1. Comms Person
  2. Country Leader

The session finished off with some advice from Philipp and Ross.

So if you’re a scaling or high growth company, here’s what you need to be thinking about:

  1. Hiring

Build the muscle to hire fast

Hire the right people

Always look for candidates

Never turn off your pipeline

  1. Focus – “You can only win so battles at one time.”
  2. Comms + Marketing + Sales  – the triangle that works
  3. Never give up