Selling tablets like hot cakes




Nov, 2016


How can we enhance sales and optimize the sales cycle of Microsoft Surface for a niche target group: Faculty of top engineering colleges in India?


A first of its kind pre-sales initiative - Flip your class with Surface ( which gives faculty not just an understanding of global changes and upcoming trends in Engineering Education but also the first-hand experience of how Microsoft Surface could help them the address and easily adapt to these changes.


Customer Experience Design

Microsoft Surface became the preferred choice of multiple engineering college academicians in Australia and America. Taking a cue from this, Microsoft India wanted to target the faculty members of some of the top Indian engineering colleges. However, they realized that there was a need for a fresh sales approach in order to capture this critical & discerning segment.

TinkerLabs approach: Live the life of these academicians and take an outside-in approach!

Anam Shaheer (Marketing Manager, Microsoft) who was heading the design and execution of this product marketing strategy realized early-on that Microsoft’s approach for this project needed a re-look. As an MBA student, Anam had attended a Design Thinking workshop that TinkerLabs had conducted at her business school. She wanted to apply Design Thinking on this project and reached out to us with the problem brief. Our approach to the problem had the following core elements

  • Do not assume anything

  • Immerse in the life and context of the end-users

  • Test, validate and then finalize

What happened on the ground:

We spent the first two weeks understanding the current setup at top engineering colleges in India along with the lives of faculty members. To do so, our team

  • Attended classes of faculty members at IIT Bombay

  • Spoke to faculty members from IIT Bombay, IIT Delhi, BITS Pilani (Pilani, Goa and Hyderabad campuses)

  • Conducted a focused group discussion on the topic of engineering education with research scholars of Ed-Tech department at IIT Bombay (subject matter experts)

When we synthesized the data collected from this exhaustive immersion we found out that engineering faculty across India are trying to “FLIP”* their classes. In their attempt to do so, each one of them is battling unique challenges. When we dug deeper we realized that these challenges broadly fall into two categories:

  • Lack of structured approach to adopt FLIP

  • The mix of technical support required for FLIP

*A flipped classroom is an instructional strategy and a type of blended learning that reverses the traditional learning environment by delivering instructional content, often online, outside of the classroom. It moves activities, including those that may have traditionally been considered homework or practical work, into the classroom.

In order to FLIP their classes, the faculty members have to engage with multiple technology devices in-order to design, deliver and manage their classes - video recorder, webcam, annotation device, pen drives, multiple computers, scanners etc.

When we mapped the faculty’s FLIP journey we realized that all these technology needs can be handled by one device - Surface. We had found our hook!

Now, the challenge was how do we communicate this effectively to the faculty members?

We designed a short 90-min workshop for the audience to address their core needs around FLIP

  • What is FLIP and how can we adopt it (is there a set framework for this)

  • The technology required to FLIP

We named the workshop “FLIP your Classroom with Surface”.

It was now time to test three core aspects of our solution:

  • Is our solution (the workshop) creating an interest?

  • Is the content of the workshop working?

  • Are faculty exploring Surface post the workshop?

Over the course next month - we conducted 5 of these workshops at IIT Roorkee, IIT Guwahati, IIT Madras, IIT Indore and NIT Bhopal. We used the learnings of each workshop to make appropriate changes to the communication, content and post-workshop follow-up. By the end of the fifth workshop, we realized we had created a stable pre-sales module which could now run independently without TinkerLabs’ support.

What did we achieve:

Through this workshop mode of pre-sales, Microsoft was able to unlock enterprise deals with multiple engineering institutes. We were also happy to have played our own little role in helping Indian institutes adopt a powerful new pedagogy (flipped classroom).

Highlight of the project:

“We were able to move from a TinkerLabs dependent workshop-mode to an independent (Microsoft-owned) delivery mode very fast and smoothly. The collaborative approach taken by TinkerLabs helped us achieve this efficiently” - Simran Dawar, Product Marketing Manager, Microsoft India.

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