An interview with Yash Tekriwal, Community, Growth, Education at Clay
We sit down with Yash Tekriwal, Community, Growth, Education at Clay. Clay helps businesses automate their sales prospecting by combining data from any provider to find your ideal customer and send personalized messages powered by AI.
How did you end up at Clay and what problem does Clay solve for its clients?
I first found out about Clay through a friend - Varun Anand, who was *incredibly* excited about the early trappings of a tool that he thought could completely change the sales landscape. We ended up embedding Clay in our workflows at my last startup and I agreed with Varun – Clay was a step change for the future of outbound. For decades, sales tools' have limited users to a geometry level of capability. This has the benefit of being simpler to use, but drawback of having a lower ceiling. Clay is the first sales tool I've ever seen that lets sales people do calculus with their workflows. The drawback is that calculus is far more complex, but the benefit is that the potential is virtually limitless. In a dream world, sales teams can master both the *art* (creative prospecting + copywriting) and *science* of sales (experimentation + iteration). But because of the constraints of current tools & resources, sales teams are forced to choose one or the other. Clay helps customers 10x their resources by helping scale the *art* side of sales with AI + automation, so teams can focus their time on higher value work, like creative brainstorming and experimentation.
As the Community, Growth, Education, what are your main responsibilities at Clay?
I help manage three main elements of the company: 1. Hiring & Training our "AI" employees 2. Embedding Analytics into our process and funnel for experimentation 3. Leveraging our user community to fuel product decisions and growth
How do you lead your team to organize and improve the marketing-sales process to increase sales and enhance the customer experience?
Really through the three main areas I mentioned above. #1 helps us do the work of 1,000 people with just 1 person. Instead of defaulting to hiring people to fill process gaps, we invest time and money into building low-code flows enabled by highly trained AI models. From product launches to revenue monitoring to community growth, we're embedding automation wherever it makes sense, which helps us keep our team lean, and focused on truly creative value-add work. #2 enables us to have a culture of experimentation internally. We built Clay to enable sales teams to embrace experimentation and art in their workflows – so we strive to do the same internally. While we were still early in our growth, this data was easy to transmit between a handful of team members constantly talking to customers. As our team and customer base grows, we're building analytics across our slack channel, marketing funnel, and product that help inform the experiments we run, and the priorities we trade-off on every week. #3 is the fuel for both of the above. We've focused on making a product that is invaluable to the people we seek to serve. As a result, we have *incredible* engagement from users asking us questions and giving us feedback in Slack constantly. We listen to every word that every one says, and we're building systems to make sure we can continue to do that as that user base grows.
At ColdFire, when we look at our clients' Marketing and Advertising strategies, they vary greatly. Some have found a single, scalable client acquisition process while others thrive on a mix of top-of-funnel strategies. How would you summarize the overarching revenue-focused strategy of Clay, and what key elements does it encompass?
honestly, our primary driver of growth thus far has been organic word of mouth. we've incidentally ended up on podcasts, blog posts, and social media when people play with the software and really understand the depth of what's possible 💥 that said, we *are* a cold-outbound tool, and we'll likely start building on that as well. the direct answer is that a mix of top-of-funnel does quite well for us, because the paths that people can take to finding (and wanting to try) Clay are quite varied.
What is an efficient marketing technique that you've implemented at Clay or previous companies, which you believe is underutilized by most management teams - and why do you think that is?
(really) doing things that don't scale this one is oxymoronic, because "do things that don't scale" is definitely widely accepted and preached. But very few teams really put this into action. At Clay, that means giving *every* interested user individual and group support, regardless of how likely they are to convert to actual paying customers. We have dozens (maybe hundreds) of users who have tried the product and decided it's not at the right time (or moment) for them – but still raved about the potential of our software, and service of the team. Because the focus for early companies trying to grow isn't to go viral, or make a quick buck at the expense of a customer's experience. It's on creating an incredible experience for everyone who comes across our team and product. That's how you build organic growth over a sustained period of time. Virality and success are incidental results of focusing on creating longlasting value.
Has your Growth team experimented with some kind of cold outbound strategy (like cold email)? If yes what was the general outcome and if no, why not?
We've experimented with cold outbound a handful of times, and had great success dogfooding our own product – but haven't poured significant resources into that funnel (yet), so that we can maintain organic growth. The general outcome, however, was that using hyper-personalized and contextual messaging resulted in incredible response rates and engagement. It's a funnel we know we can tap at any time, and increasingly considering in the future as we start to hit certain milestones.