The Operations department is emerging as a major buying center. If you’re not considering Operations when you identify target accounts and contacts, you’re missing out on 21% of a company’s annual budget, on average, according to our recent 2019 Purchasing Power Index.

Read on to see why this quiet giant controls more budget than ever before – and learn about Operations:

  1. personas
  2. pain points
  3. titles your sales team should target

5 YEARS AGO: With the (abrupt) transition to digital media, marketing as a function became more sophisticated, more complicated, and … harder.

Technological solutions emerged to make marketing more efficient and effective, and to track and measure performance. A variety of new martech tools made it possible for marketers to target buyers online, create and optimize landing pages, engage with social communities, etc (and tying marketing activities to revenue generation, making it easier to make the case for more budget). Chief Marketer found that the number of martech vendors has grown from around 150 in 2011 to almost 7040 this year (and now appears to be consolidating).

This perfect storm of technology has put more money into the hands of the marketing department than ever before.

3 YEARS AGO: Technology made its way across the aisle to the sales department. A lot of salestech is aimed at engagement, as well as new tools for automating outreach, forecasting, training, and performance.

Smart Selling Tools’ 2019 Sales Tech Landscape saw number of salestech tools grow 25% from 2018 to 2019 (the second 25% increase in 2 years). The explosion of sales technologies is putting a lot of new budgetary discretion in the hands of the sales tech buyer.

TODAY: This tech trend has breached another department: Operations.

Activity in Operations departments has seen 20% growth for each of the past two years, according to our analysis of DiscoverOrg data.


purchasing power

This is part of a larger trend: Operations, which has historically have had to rely on trickle-down budget from IT or other departments, now has a budget of its own.

Sales and marketers, take note:

  1. You can now market and sell operations-oriented products and services directly to the end user (or their manager) – rather than competing for trickle-down spend from to budget-holders outside the operations department.
  2. Historically, sales to the operations function has been based on long-standing vendor relationships, making it difficult for startups, newcomers, and disruptors to get a piece of the pie. The democratization of data has made it much easier to contact buyers directly (if you can find them) – and beat out older incumbent vendors.
  3. There’s a lot of money at stake. The emerging Operations budget is HUGE. It touches “smart” buildings, security, infrastructure, transportation, insurance, planning, facilities management … just to name a few.

Let’s look at who the Operations buyer is – and where to find them.

Who is an Operations buyer?

operations-datasetChanges in customer expectations have industries and departments scrambling to meet evolving expectations of end-users: namely, customization and speed of service.

Operations departments are under pressure to automate processes, optimize costs, and mitigate risks to meet the demands of a new generation of consumers.

Common Operations buyers work as:

Operations Management, Chief Operations Officer – The chief operating officer (COO) is tasked with the day-to-day administration, internal affairs, and operations of the business. Typically, the COO reports directly to the CEO and is considered second in command.

Call Center / Customer Support – This job is a combination of personnel and technology tasked with identifying customers’ needs, clarifying information, researching issues, and providing solutions. Customer support centers handle high volumes of inbound and outbound communications, and often have quotas around identifying upsell opportunities and retention.

Supply Chain – This role coordinates the logistics of all aspects of the supply chain consisting of 1.) the plan or strategy, 2.) sourcing materials or services, 3.) manufacturing productivity and efficiency, 4.) delivery and logistics, and 5.) the return system for defective or unwanted products.

Facilities Management – This role manages the design, construction, and maintenance of equipment, machinery, buildings and other facilities. This department plans, budgets, and schedules facility modifications. Equipment and labor materials are also part of Facilities Management.

account-based marketing success

Logistics – Logistics is responsible for the efficient storage, distribution, and fulfillment of goods.

Corporate Strategy – At the operations level, corporate strategy is designed to maximize the effectiveness of production and support elements while minimizing costs.

Office / Store Operations – Buyers in this role make recommendations to improve productivity, quality, and efficiency of operations.

Safety and Security – This role identifies common health and safety hazards in the organization’s operations, and works to minimize risk through precautionary measures and enforcing standards and guidelines.

Real Estate / Leasing / Construction – People in these roles help source, analyze, perform due diligence on real estate acquisitions, development, financing, and utilization.

Operations buyers are focused on efficiency, digitization, automation, and efficiency. Additionally, they’re increasingly participating in the Internet of Things (IoT).

And that’s where a lot of emerging opportunities lie.

The Operations buyer and the IoT

Warehouse logistics is important

Organizing the floor of a manufacturing plant. Adjusting the office thermometer. Risk analysis. Quality control.

Five years ago, all of these operations activities were done manually. Not today.

So many processes now can be digitized and automated, usually involving a third-party service. And that translates to a sales opportunity. And by “opportunity,” we’re talking about an industry worth $157 billion in 2016, anticipated to grow to $457 billion by 2020, according to Forbes.

That’s a LOT of buying power! As sophisticated and ubiquitous as salestech and martech has become, Operations as it relates to the IoT dwarfs it all.

Challenges selling into Operations

So who – and how – do you target, to participate in this emerging global powerhouse? Operations buyers are different than other buyers in a few ways.

First, “operations” is a pretty vague term. It doesn’t usually appear in an employee’s title, so it’s hard to identify exactly the role you’re looking for.

Second, Operations employees don’t often hold high-profile titles. These aren’t roles that are typically listed on a corporate website, and there aren’t a lot of operations “thought leaders” on LinkedIn. So, they’re difficult to identify – and harder to find contact information for.


A recent survey from BSG shows that the the two biggest challenges for those selling and marketing to operations and facilities are 1.) Finding new leads, and 2.) Accessing the right decision-makers.

operations-buyers-are-hard-to-findIf you are lucky enough to have a large rolodex of business cards for these types of contacts (and you feel confident that they are all still at those accounts), then you’re off to the races.

However, if you aren’t that guy (and let’s be honest, those cards will only be accurate for so long), then you still need to find new leads and access decision-makers.

We created our new Operations dataset for you – to connect sales, marketing, and recruiting professionals with the specific individuals with budgetary discretion and purchase power for in this $100 billion industry.

Why did we start building this dataset? Derek Smith, our Senior VP of Data and Research, says it was an easy decision: “Customers and prospects repeatedly asked for it. Over time, it became clear that plenty of people wanted to reach these types of contacts. But there was nowhere to get them.”

The dataset is the first of its kind with detailed profiles, complete with direct-dial phone numbers, verified email addresses, org charts, tech stack, and more, specifically for people in Operations roles.

Operations is the new purchasing powerhouse of technology. The first person in line with a strong pitch for this untapped group of buyers has the best chance of capitalizing on the potential opportunity here.

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Charity Heller
About the author

Charity Heller

Content Strategist, DiscoverOrg

Charity Heller, DiscoverOrg's content strategy manager, has been developing, composing, and editing content since age 2. Before her dive into content marketing, she founded and operated a book-editing company for 10 years. Charity has a B.A. in English literature, Professional Editing Certification from U.C. Berkeley, and she's a certified Project Manager.