Michelle Westich: Epik Communications

EPIK Communications (now Lumen) was a wholesale broadband services company that provided telecommunications services (IP, Ethernet, Dark Fiber and VPN solutions) to carriers and enterprise customers across the United States and Latin America.

The Challenge

FECI was a transportation, real estate and infrastructure business that created EPIK as a subsidiary with the goal to embed fiber telecoms into their existing properties. Their principal customers included AT&T Wireless, Sprint and Telefonica. The subsidiary struggled and shareholders decided to divest themselves of EPIK. However, leadership pivoted and instead recruited an executive team to rapidly reposition and grow the subsidiary, then exit. I was recruited, along with a CFO and SVP of Operations, although it became clear the biggest growth roadblocks fell squarely on Sales and Marketing.

My challenge was to quickly assess, identify gaps, and realign both the sales and marketing teams to supercharge revenue, with the goal to reposition the organization for acquisition within 12 months. Specific challenges included demand generation, effectively qualifying and quoting business (it was a very technical sale), expanding existing customer relationships, defining roles and goals between marketing and sales regarding lead qualifying, and creation of marketing and sales materials.

My Role

Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing

I was brought on by the CEO and the holding company Florida East Coast Industries, LLC (FECI) because of my expertise in developing and executing on high-growth opportunities, which was the result of my years of experience in leading sales and marketing teams in the areas of product development, go-to-market, channel strategies and execution. Previously, I held key leadership positions at Intermedia Communications in Sales, Sales Strategy, and Marketing and helped take it from $40 million to over $1 billion in six years. 

The Work

Initially, I developed a simple, but powerful exercise for EPIKS internal departments that allowed me to to create high-impact, high-value strike points. These points  became the basis of a roadmap that led to improved sales productivity, increased enterprise-wide cooperation and operational effectiveness. 

Realigned sales and marketing teams:

  • Established roles and goals for identifying, scoring, handing off, and measuring and tracking leads between marketing and sales teams. Working in lockstep, they quickly became known as a “revenue team,” delivering consistent revenue.
  • Enacted consistent reporting between the sales team and marketing/product team of market trends and opportunities, which improved product offerings as well as sales materials and practices.

Increased product offerings:

  • Hosted regular business reviews with select carrier customers and the sales team to increase the competitiveness of our offerings. Improved responsiveness, customer communication and level of service commitments during outages.
  • Expanded into a larger target market in cities where EPIK had metropolitan networks by developing and then becoming first to market with Sub-Gig Ethernet services for new enterprise customers. 

Improved sales excellence and reduced customer churn:

  • Designed and launched a new sales quota and compensation program driving accountability for retention, renewal and consistent growth of recurring revenue, leading to a 72 percent increase in annual sales. 
The Outcome

Within one year, we successfully positioned the subsidiary for acquisition and grew revenue from less than $12 million to $20 million. Additionally, by developing new product offerings, we were able to expand into the enterprise market, making EPIK a more attractive acquisition target. Originally valued at less than $15 million, almost a year later, EPIK was successfully acquired by Progress Telecom for $30 million, and a few years later was bought by Level 3 Communications, a multinational telecommunications and Internet service provider company, for $137 million. Now owned by Lumen.

The key to building a predictable sales engine is ensuring your marketing and sales teams are in lockstep and you’re setting up internal customer delivery and support teams for success, providing the tools, knowledge and resources to land the ideal customer and grow relationships.

–– Michelle Westch, SVP Sales & Marketing