If someone fits the image, “set sail to new shores,” it’s Ellen, head of sales at Westend61. Before the 37-year-old took over sales management here in January 2019, she was responsible for selling electric boat engines. This unusual switch from technology and nautical skills to stock photography not only highlights Ellen’s flexibility, but also the diversity of careers within the Westend61 team. Here, very different talents, abilities, and training combine to form a team characterized by a high degree of creativity.
Organizational talent, commercial understanding, and customer proximity are the strengths that Ellen acquired and constantly broadened first as an apprentice in office administration, later in a position with the biology faculty at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, and then in the sales department at the boat engine manufacturer Torqeedo. And it was these same skills that qualified her to work for Westend61. There she is primarily responsible for the still relatively young direct sales department. For Ellen, the path into the colorful world of images meant stepping into the unknown, “but again I consciously chose adventure,” she says in retrospect. A step she hasn’t regretted because she appreciates Westend61’s short, official channels, which result in greater maneuverability and personal teamwork. “That way you can come to a solution much faster than with rigid structures,” she observed.
Tying up the right picture package with the customer
At Westend61, Ellen is the first contact person for customers and those who want to (and should) become customers. She is the interface between the Art Department and the customer. She not only needs sales talent and an overview of the various licensing models, but she also needs a feel for what this or that customer needs, in other words, what images can best convey a specific message. “To do this, you have to get to know your customers well, and that’s only possible through personal contact,” asserts Ellen.
In order to be able to offer customers tailor-made, highly expressive image solutions, she needs to know the many possibilities of not only image language, current trends, but also the structure of the online image shop—after all, Westend61 currently has more than 720,000 images… “So I lead the customers through the product range and show them where they can find the right ones for them, and together we then tie up the right image package. So I am the human voice, so to speak, behind the online shop,” explains Ellen.
A flair for individual requests and picture languages
Just as photographers “speak” their individual visual language, Westend61’s customers often have their own way of communicating visually with their target groups. Finding common ground between these two areas is one of her tasks. “For this it is important to adapt to each new customer,” she says. For example, editorial use of images by large publishers requires different requirements than the sale of images for commercial use.
In addition to supporting existing customers who are already convinced of the quality of the image material offered by Westend61 and like to use it again and again, Ellen also looks after the acquisition of new customers, for example from advertising agencies. While other large picture agencies act primarily as a platform, like a hub, so to speak, from which photos are driven out as mass-produced commodities, Westend61 sets a more individual approach—as an owner-led agency with a tribe of its own photographers and as a market leader in People & Lifestyle photography. Ellen sees spreading awareness for this special strength of Westend61 as one of her main tasks because: “We easily provide a complete offer with knowledge, ability, quality, and coolness. And with that I can go to the customer, feeling good and proud.”