Do you really know your Google rep?

One of the most misunderstood things about working with Google is the job of your Google "rep."

Let's clear that up right now: a "Google rep" is not a support rep - they are a sales person. Seriously, go check out their job description!

As someone who used to work at Google on the Google Ads sales team, I'm not sure why this seems to strike such a negative chord with those in the PPC community. Every company has sales people who can also serve a support function, but are ultimately incentivized to drive more revenue.

Think about it: the sales associate at a shoe store helps you find the right size, makes recommendations, processes returns... but ultimately, their job is to get you to buy shoes. Lots of shoes.

Ordering a burger at McDonald's or a popcorn at a movie theatre, how often are you asked to upgrade to a combo? We don't begrudge these folks for trying to "sell" while taking our order.

Bringing it to B2B examples, think of any SaaS sales rep you've dealt with. They book a meeting with you, do product demos, answer your troubleshooting questions... and ultimately, are trying to sell you (and upsell you) on buying their product. They'll periodically email you to "just to check in" or "have you heard about this new feature" the way Google reps are all over AAR & Performance Max right now.

Yes, Google employs a large, diversified sales team to work with businesses, agencies and marketers, help them achieve their goals, and in turn, help Google achieve its goals.

Since the following thread got a little attention on Twitter, here's a breakdown of those various sales teams, and my opinion on what it means for YOU, as someone who works with Google.

This is based on my personal experience working at Google from 2015-2021.

GCS vs LCS

The first distinction to understand the Google Ads sales organization is GCS vs LCS. As of 2022, ad sales is split into two distinct orgs: Google Customer Solutions (GCS) and Large Customer Sales (LCS). The rest of this post will focus on GCS, since that's where the largest volume of advertisers will interact with Google.

I worked in LCS, where the top spenders reside. Because I know you're going to ask, no, there's no "threshold number" you need to hit in order to "get into" LCS. Those decisions are made annually, and are based on... well, I don't want to get in trouble, so just take my word for it: ad spend isn't the only thing that matters.

What is GCS?

GCS is the scaled solutions part of Google Ads sales. Emphasis on scaled. Within GCS there are dozens of different teams, levels, programs, etc. but ultimately, when you're in GCS, you will be assigned to a Google team that oversees anywhere from dozens to hundreds clients.

Note that you're not guaranteed to have a dedicated Google team just because you spend money on Google Ads. If you do have a Google team, though, it will likely be part of GCS.

You may also receive emails sometimes from someone who works for company XXX "on behalf of Google." This means that they are a contractor, not a Google employee. It doesn't necessarily mean they know less - Google Ads experience is not required to get a full-time or contract job at Google. In my experience, tenure in role matters more than Googler vs non-Googler. Personally, I treat conversations with contract reps like "let me Google that for you," because I assume that as non-Google employees, that's basically what they're doing to answer my questions - referencing the internal Google Ads Help Center. Yes, it does have more information and context than the external Google Ads Help Center we mere mortals can see.

So who works in GCS? These are Google employees who do not need ads experience to get the job, but do get trained on the job. Remember, this is a sales team. Yes, there are things they MUST pitch. Yes, they should still be focused on YOUR goals. The more you share with them, the more helpful they can be.

What is AGT?

The Google Accelerated Growth Team (AGT) is one of the GCS teams that I've heard mentioned by name a few times on #PPCChat Twitter. I've interacted with this team both at Google and since leaving Google, and in general, I've had positive experiences.

AGT is exactly what it sounds like: accelerated growth. And how do we accelerate growth? More money! The way this team works is you make a (non-legally binding) commitment to spend a certain amount over 90 days, and in return, you get a higher level of service. AGT will provide you with an account plan to ensure alignment on what will happen in those 90 days.

If AGT reaches out to you and you/your client don't want to spend more, just let them know. They'll move on.

So who's in charge?

Googlers get leeway to put whatever job title they like in their email signature, their LinkedIn profile, etc. so it can be hard to decipher exactly what everyone does.

There are 3 main roles on a GCS team, here's what they are and what they may be called so you know who you're speaking to:

  1. Account Strategist: this is the more junior role on a GCS team. Strategists are actually in your account, helping you achieve your goals. This is who you'll interact with the most. If you can do so without being rude, it may be helpful to ask how long they've been at Google and what they did before. Note that Google Ads experience is not required to get a job working in ad sales at Google. Remember, we were all beginners at one point. To understand more, I highly recommend going to the Google Careers page and looking at a job description for an Account Strategist in your region (Americas, EMEA or APAC).
  2. Lead Strategist / Account Executive / Client Partner: this is the more senior sales role on the GCS team. I've seen titles vary widely, but they will generally have "Lead" or "Executive" in their title somewhere. More senior does NOT mean more Google Ads knowledge. They are supposed to help set the strategy and lead sales conversations across accounts, and then the Account Strategist will be your day-to-day execution partner. You do not need Google Ads in-platform experience to be an AE.
  3. Sales Manager: this person manages the Account Strategists and Account Executives. It is primarily a people management role, but may have some client interaction as well, especially with newer team members. You do not need Google Ads in-platform experience to be a Sales Manager.

Another note that came out of my Twitter thread, some fun Google insider baseball: if you see "Senior" as part of someone's title, it means they got promoted within the role. So a Senior Account Strategist has probably been on the job at least 2 years, a Senior Account Executive has probably been an AE for 2-4 years, etc. At least on the LCS side, this was an unofficial thing people did when they got promoted. Personally, I left my title as "International Growth Consultant" even after my promotion, rather than the in-vogue "Senior International Growth Consultant." What a mouthful! No wonder even Googlers never understood what I did... Externally, I called myself an "International Growth Lead," and now, I just say I worked in ad sales at Google :)

I hope this information helps you develop good relationships with your Google team. If you have any questions, feel free to let me know on Twitter.

If you liked this post you may be interested in:

  • Inside Google Ads: learn Google Ads with an ex-Googler
  • Google Ads Account Audit: get an ex-Googler to tell you exactly what you need to do to improve performance
  • Google Ads coaching: I coach marketers and entrepreneurs who want to understand the mechanics of how Google marketing works, and how to drive the best business results.
  • Google Ads training: If you want your employees to learn Google Ads at their own pace, using your account and unique business goals, then you can hire me as your Google Ads Trainer.
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