An installer works with MP Global Products’ QuietWalk underlayment.

When helping a customer select new flooring, don’t be short-sighted and rush to close the sale by throwing in a generic underlayment. That would be missing an opportunity to upsell the underlayment and could mean potential lost profit. Make sure to impress upon your client that what lies underneath is very relevant to the performance of the floor.

Realize that not every customer is solely cost-conscious. There are plenty of value-conscious customers concerned with the quality of the overall installation as well as the cost. And, for customers who are focused on making sure they get the best materials for their floor installation, the carry-through of quality can be very important as those customers may not be aware of their underlayment options.

In today’s market, upselling underlayment is a step in the right direction. Manufacturers are continually introducing new materials or fine-tuning established lines, giving sales staff a lot of ”marketing-ese” to draw from.

For example, buyers of new flooring often spend a good deal of time visiting retailers to determine the type of floor they want, the price level, and the color, texture and finish. Yet, in many cases, they spend little effort selecting an appropriate companion underlayment. However, this is often a very important factor in the performance of a floor.

Sales staff should take the initiative to add value to the sale and keep the conversation flowing after a customer decides upon a specific flooring material. The salesperson should try and review with the customer the relevant key attributes of premium underlayment. Moving the customer from a generic underlayment without any elevating characteristics, up to a premium underlayment that is a smart match, ultimately rewards the customer as well as the salesperson.

Make sure your sales staff knows the ins and outs of premium underlayment, from the performance of the product all the way down to its installation. Photo courtesy of Custom Building Products.

Your sales personnel need to be familiar with the talking points of the premium underlayment products available in your store that are specifically designed for use under the flooring material the customer is buying, whether tile, stone, engineered wood, laminate, carpet or resilient floors.

Additionally, some manufacturers disseminate details in their literature about the various selling points that differentiate their products,  giving sales personnel plenty of pass-along reasons to help justify a choice that goes beyond price alone.

In a sale of flooring for a luxury condo development, for example, sound abating qualities are likely to be very important. So an acoustical underlayment designed to quiet impact sound, dampen ambient sound, and inhibit noise from traveling into the room below would be a smart suggestion.  

For projects where end-user comfort and, perhaps, energy costs are considerations, an insulating underlayment that adds an R-value of at least .50 (and acting as a thermal break) would help keep a room warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

And in a green project, where the owner is appealing to or satisfying concerns of eco-minded buyers, underlayment made from recycled materials and/or one that does not negatively impact indoor air quality can be an attractive part of a floor system. Some products are available that meet third-party certification.

A sales staff that understands the concept of value-added selling should hone in on actual buyer needs and then help the customer gravitate to underlayment options with attributes that satisfy their specific requirements.