Art Life Uses Off-Site Sales Force

Posted on 8/14/2007 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Florida-based Art Life Images is taking a streamlined approach to building its sales force. While a number of stock-licensing agencies employ telecommuters as photo editors, off-site employment remains relatively rare in the industry - particularly when it comes to sales executives.

Founded by former SuperStock executive Chris DeLellis seven months ago, Art Life currently represents 2 million rights-managed and royalty-free images, including well-established brands such as Digital Vision, PhotoDisc and ThinkStock. DeLellis says that Art Life represents a new type of stock agency, one that is "aware of the environmental challenges facing the industry." He thinks that Art Life's combination of quality product and innovative technologies by its partner THP Photo Services will position the 7-months-old agency as the preferred alternative to tradition.

According to DeLellis, the remote-driven model provides the means for experienced professionals to operate as independent, high-commissioned agents, while receiving the full range of traditional research and accounting support. IAEs augment Art Life's in-house sales staff. DeLellis cautions that the model is not for everyone, but can be appealing and lucrative for industry pros with over five years of experience in quota-based image sales environments.

So far, the strategy has clicked with staffers. Anne Erdman, formerly a sales executive in Corbis' Los Angeles offices, says that the off-site model has allowed her to benefit from years of building industry contacts after relocating to the East Coast.

From the employer's perspective, Art Life has joined the growing ranks of companies who believe that traditional management approaches must be re-evaluated in an economy increasingly characterized by rapid and unpredictable change. This is the position of Charlie Grantham, Jim Ware and Cory Williamson, authors of the forthcoming book Corporate Agility.

The trio of academics turned business consultants have spent five years on a project called "The Future of Work." While not new, the use of distributed/remote labor is among the many trends covered. Corporate Agility examines how traditionally managed companies are falling behind because of high fixed operational costs, such as long-term commitments to buildings, people and technologies that rob them of the agility to compete in times of short-term change.

An argument for change would seem to be supported by the declining profitability and layoffs at the largest stock-image companies trying to cope with microstock, oversupply, new technologies and generally flat image revenues. At the same time, smaller, leaner and more innovative agencies are reporting improved business conditions. Art Life's inventory growth, staff expansion and rise in Google rank support the notion that reports of the image industry's demise have been greatly exaggerated.

Copyright © 2007 Julia Dudnik Stern. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


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