Going Beyond Luck and Timing: Aidas Dirse, Sales & Marketing Operations at Vena

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Vena Solutions provides a cloud-based financial planning and analysis (FP&A) solution that combines Excel with a centralized database, sophisticated workflow, powerful reporting, and advanced analytics. Over 500 of the world’s best companies use Vena to get trusted insights that drive faster, smarter business decisions. Vena is the fastest growing company in its sector and a recognized leader in customer satisfaction and product usability.

We had a chance to speak with Aidas Dirse, Sales & Marketing Operations at Vena, about how and why he does what he does, how he got into it, and how Vena uses EverString to reach new customers and clean up their sales and prospect database.

What is Vena Solutions? What do you do?

We offer a better way to tackle budgeting, reporting account reconciliations and more- pretty much the gamut of what finance and accounting leaders do for their companies.

A lot of companies do what’s called bottom-up budgeting, which means their finance team will ask every department head for their own budget. They’ll roll that budget up into their overall corporate budget, making sure all the checks and balances are there as they plan their year.

Many teams rely on Excel spreadsheets for much of the budgeting process: the finance department will create an Excel template which gets passed down to the department heads and then to directors and managers.

Often, these templates are sent via email, and over time, there are far too many versions and departmental variations of the budget to keep track of. As they flow back up to finance, the budgeting team is tasked with taking all these different versions of the template, all with different pieces of financial data, and pulling them together into one cohesive budget. Getting everything to work together and match up the way it’s supposed to is an onerous, labor-intensive, and error-prone task to say the least.

Vena eliminates the issues of version control and data integrity by linking a company’s Excel spreadsheets to a central database. Data is automatically aggregated, accessible to those in charge of creating the budget, in the same format using the same version of the template they originally created.

Vena also streamlines critical processes by incorporating workflow automation and validation rules, reducing the amount of manual effort that goes into managing the tasks within a process and validating the data that’s available by the end of the process.

What’s your role in sales and marketing ops like?

I’m more heavily involved in the sales side of the company, but I dip my toes into the marketing side to help streamline processes and ensure that sales and marketing are acting as one cohesive unit.

I’m more heavily involved in the sales side of the company, but I dip my toes into the marketing side to help streamline processes and ensure that sales and marketing are acting as one cohesive unit.

I wear many different hats, but one of the big roles is one I took upon myself: to clean up our database, manage the de-duplication of our records, and encourage our sales team to scrub each account, filling in missing contact information, so we could start building automated processes.

I also help oversee a small team that manages the actual database and serves as the technical resource for our Salesforce deployment. They help build workflows, validation, and automation processes so the whole company is more efficient. We’re also adding EverString more into our marketing efforts, and I’m helping marry those efforts into our sales campaigns.

What got you interested in a career in sales and marketing?

I won’t lie, it came about by sheer luck. I have a background in operations, but it’s in hospitality. I was working in the wine industry when my brother got a job in revenue operations at a software company. He recommended I look at the SaaS space because he knew how much I loved technology — building my own computers when I was young, working with robotics, things like that. He suggested I become a SDR (sales development representative) for a year or so and see what opens up.

I landed a job at Vena where I was an SDR for a year and a half, becoming a top performer by automating certain sales processes that were often done manually. Eventually, I sat down with the CEO, showed him what I was working on, and suggested that if I moved into Operations, we’d be able to get the whole team working at this higher level of efficiency.

The CEO agreed to give me the opportunity, so Vena built a department around me. In doing so, I was able to increase our entire SDR team’s results quarter over quarter, and we continue to grow from there.

What was the moment when you knew you wanted to be in Ops?

I always wanted to do a lot with technology, but I never really knew that Ops was an option. So when Vena gave me a chance in this role, my first priority was to increase the efficiency of our sales team. As that grew, and as I did more research and learned more about what I was doing, I found this was my passion.

“I love technology, I love building things like workflows and processes, and I love being able to have a hands-on role in improving the way work gets done.”

I love technology, I love building things like workflows and processes, and I love being able to have a hands-on role in improving the way work gets done. I really enjoy the boots-on-the-ground aspect of this position, taking problems that people might have, and finding or building a solution for them. It’s really only been in the last year and a half that I figured out operations has been a calling of mine.

What gets you excited about working at Vena?

I love the challenge. Vena is a fast-growing company with enough stability where we can experiment with new approaches and changes to our existing process. It’s kind of a playground in a way — we have these opportunities to try things out to see if they work, and then improve them. We don’t have all the wrinkles ironed out yet, and that’s what keeps me coming back every day. There are days I look up and realize it’s 7:00 at night and I haven’t eaten yet. That’s how much I get into the role.

It’s just constant energy, and we are always trying to come up with ways to make our processes better. I recently hired a Salesforce admin who came from a $13 billion company, where everything was so rigid. He told me that if you wanted to make one change to the system, it had to go through five different approvals just to make that change. But at Vena, we’re always building new things from new ideas and getting really creative, seeing what works and what doesn’t. In a way, I’m able to get five times the experience in this role, compared to a larger company where the processes are set and we’re just supporting them.

What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?

Well, my brother had a big influence on my career path, especially when he suggested I find a company and start working as an SDR. He’s done a lot of great things to help me and to teach me, and I can’t list them all, but that recommendation that got me into the tech world was probably it. Being able to sell the basic value of a complicated software system in a two-minute phone call is a great skill for anyone — it’s transferable to so many different roles and keeps the door open for a really wide range of career paths.

Last question: Why EverString?

We had a guy who worked on our Marketo solution, and when some of our staff and I were heading off to Dreamforce, he said we should stop and check out EverString. I already knew I was going to be so busy that I almost blew him off. I just couldn’t think about buying a solution right now, and I had all these other challenges, but I thought, “Okay, I’ll take a couple minutes and see what they’re about, maybe hop on a call for a quick demo.”

Then, as I’m working through my database cleanup project, I said, “I really wish you could play a role in getting that information live integrated within Salesforce.”

It turns out that was completely possible! And as I realized that you had multiple database technologies with machine learning, I knew our database was only going to get better. We were in a tough spot last January with lots of data to clean up, but over the year, I’ve seen that it has been getting considerably better as EverString learns about and updates our data.

 

Follow Aidas Dirse and Vena Solutions:
Aidas on LinkedIn
Vena on Twitter
Vena Solutions blog

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