Google Cloud has a new program to assign its best salespeople to go after the biggest customers - but Google employees say it makes it harder for current salespeople to advance

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Google Cloud has a new program to assign its best salespeople to go after the biggest customers - but Google employees say it makes it harder for current salespeople to advance

Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian at Google Cloud Next 2019

Google

Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian at Google Cloud Next 2019

  • Google Cloud introduced "Named Accounts," a program to assign teams of cream-of-the-crop salespeople to go after the largest companies in the world, sources say.
  • Google Cloud is hiring for a brand-new role, called "account directors," to handle these Named Accounts - and they're said to be paid very well.
  • This change is similar to how Oracle, where Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian most recently worked, handles its largest customers.
  • However, this isn't sitting well with current Google employees, sources say: It's far easier for outsiders to get hired into these account director roles than for an existing Google salesperson to step up, even if they have the right experience.
  • Sources also say that there's a perception among Google Cloud salespeople that the hiring process is "biased" towards Oracle veterans.
  • Earlier this year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that it expects to triple the size of Google Cloud's sales force, even as he said that Google Cloud was on an $8 billion annualized run rate.
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Earlier this year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said that the company plans to triple the sales force at Google Cloud, giving more fuel to new cloud boss Thomas Kurian's ambitious sales strategy.

Now, we know a little more about how that plan will be made manifest, as sources familiar with Google Cloud's sales efforts say that the company is dedicating its absolute top-tier salespeople to go after the top global organizations that could potentially be brought into Google Cloud.

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This program, referred to as "Named Accounts," became effective on July 1st. A person familiar with the matter says that there are 250 of these so-called Named Accounts, and each one gets a dedicated sales team, as well as a customer engineer to help advise on integrating Google's technology.

It comes as Google Cloud disclosed that it does $8 billion in revenue every year, even as Kurian is tasked with helping the company close bigger deals as it races to catch up with the market-leading Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure.

Before Kurian came to Google, he was a rising star at Oracle - and this Named Accounts program is very similar to how Oracle approaches sales, with dedicated teams with a mandate of building relationships with top customers.

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Sources also say that Google Cloud has created a new position, called "account directors," with higher compensation packages, specifically to handle these Named Accounts. These account directors are expected to have deep expertise in specific industries, like finance, healthcare, or retail.

According to a Google Cloud job posting from August for "Key Account Director / Executive, Google Cloud" - which our sources say is a role to handle Named Accounts - it's looking for people with at least 15 years of "quota carrying software sales and strategic account management" for enterprises. Preferably, it's looking for people with 20 years of experience.

People hired for this role will "serve as the senior executive selling to the most strategic enterprises." This includes building relationships with CEOs and executives at large companies to help them understand what their company needs and how they can use Google Cloud.

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Moving up the ladder

This strategy was first announced in June, around the same time that Google Cloud made changes to the ways it compensates salespeople. Effective July 1st, Google Cloud moved to a bonus-driven compensation method, similar to legacy enterprise companies like Oracle and SAP.

Read more: Google Cloud has changed how it pays its salespeople, ripping a page out of the Oracle playbook

This particular change isn't sitting especially well with everybody, according to two sources: These new account directors are making more money than those who have been doing similar jobs at Google Cloud, these employees say, even if they have the same level of experience with handling large companies.

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This is further complicated by how Google ranks and compensates its employees. Most Google Cloud sales employees are at level 5 or level 6 (that's "L5" or "L6" in Google parlance). Managers and other senior salespeople are ranked at L7. However, these new account directors, tasked to a single company each, are ranked L8 - a distinction usually reserved for directors responsible for entire geographic regions, one source says.

Google Cloud employees were told that they were eligible to apply for these lucrative, high-ranking account director positions, but they've most often gone to outside hires brought in from other companies. They say that it's because Google policy makes it difficult for an L6 salesperson, even one with the appropriate experience, to jump up two ranks to the new L8 account director position.

'Biased' towards Oracle

The sources also said Google Cloud has altered the interview process, to meet Pichai's stated goal of accelerating sales hiring.

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However, they also say that they feel like Google Cloud's hiring process has become "biased" towards former Oracle employees, as one put it.

To their point, at least five of Google Cloud's new leadership hires have worked at Oracle: Latin American sales president Eduardo Lopez, customer engineering vice president Hamidou Dia, global business practices vice president Saintley Wong, financial services sales head Bob Allison, and communications sales head David Ooley all came from the database giant.

Ultimately, one source says that now is the best time for outsiders to get hired for a sales role at Google Cloud. For employees within the company, though, it can still take around two years to move up a level, the source says, meaning that meaningful advancement for insiders is harder than it sounds.

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Google declined to comment, but pointed Business Insider towards Pichai's remarks on growing the sales force at the time of the last earnings call: "We continue to build our world-class cloud team to help support our customers and expand the business and are looking to triple our salesforce over the next few years."

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