3 Ways to Start the Color Conversation

Bust through homeowner indecision with these icebreakers

For some customers, committing to a specific color can be intimidating. What if it’s not quite right? What if it looks different in real life than how they imagined it in their head? What if this color goes out of style almost as soon as it dries? That fear can lead to paralysis—and may delay the start of your painting project waiting while you wait for a decision.

But you don’t have to wait. By engaging the customer in a conversation about color, you can help them gain the confidence to lock in their color selection and move forward. Best of all, it doesn’t require you to be a color expert; all you have to do is get them talking and pay attention.

“When your prep helps a customer find the perfect color, you look good, they feel great, and their home looks amazing,” says Sue Wadden, Director of Color Marketing at Sherwin-Williams. “Everybody wins.”

So how do you break the ice and get that color conversation started? Here’s three easy approaches.

  1. Coordinate Around an Existing Item

If you’re painting a room, look for something that sticks out. Is there an eye-catching portrait, a unique piece of furniture, or a fireplace built into one wall? Start there and orient the conversation around how the homeowner would like to make that item pop.

“Find something in the room that the homeowner wants to coordinate with,” Wadden says. “A piece of furniture, a rug, or even a pillow could set the tone for the whole room. That’s a great place to start the color conversation. Because oftentimes, you can find a color that either coordinates or matches with these other elements, and that gets the ball rolling and makes the conversation much easier.”

  1. Ask Your Customer About Mood

Sometimes the customer doesn’t have a particular color or palette in mind, but there’s a mood they would like to achieve.

Asking questions can bring this to the surface, Wadden says: “Ask them about their inspirations. ‘Do you want something that’s a little serene? Are you trying to create a room that’s got great energy? Or do you want something kind of moody?’ Even if the person you’re talking to had no idea what they’re going for in a space, these questions will get them thinking about it and put them on the right path.”

  1. Show Them What Works for Others

Some customers just “know it when they see it.” Meet those customers halfway by showing them some examples. If you’re painting a bathroom, find examples of painted bathrooms in different styles online—Instagram and Pinterest can be great resources—and find out what they like. You can also show them trending colors and palettes.

“Data can be your friend,” Wadden says. “If you’ve got a customer who’s looking for kitchen cabinet colors, try pulling up Color Collections on the Sherwin-Williams website or in the PRO+ App: ‘These are the top colors people like to use in kitchens. Whites are really important, but blacks can also be used on kitchen cabinets. What do you think about that?’ Using that information as recommendations can help guide the conversation.”


You’re already equipped with everything you need to help start customers on their color journey. Asking a few questions or noticing something special about the room can be all it takes to help customers find exactly what they were looking for.

And once you’ve started the conversation, there’s plenty of resources available to help you navigate those discussions like a seasoned pro. From services available through Sherwin-Williams—like FREE Virtual Color Consultation with a color expert—to informational resources—including articles published on this website—you have no shortage of ways to help customers arrive at a satisfactory conclusion.

By becoming a trusted resource for your customers on color, you can close more leads, get jobs scheduled and started on-time, and leave with satisfied customers who will tell their friends about you. Start the conversation today.