Nursery Sales Assistant

Course CodeVHT103
Fee CodeS1
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

Gain Skills Needed to Make Nursery Sales

Sales staff are the stalwart of any business, but not everyone can make a success of selling. In order to become a professional sales person, you need to know your product and your customers.

  • Learn how to maximise sales of plants and garden products.
  • Use what you learn to gain employment working in a plant nursery.
  • Start your own nursery business, or improve sales results in an existing nursery. 

This course was developed in response to a request from a retail nurseryman who was finding it difficult to find staff with appropriate skills. As he put it, job applicants were either over qualified or lacked the basic skills needed: to be able to identify plants, advise customers on their use and to understand some basic sales techniques and procedures.

Lesson Structure

There are 5 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction to Plant Identification
    • Understanding plant classification and pronunciation of plant names.
  2. Basic Sales Skills
    • Different customer types
    • communication skills to sell
    • how to open and close a sale.
  3. Caring for Plants
    • Planting techniques
    • understanding soils
    • plant nutrition
    • pest management.
  4. Selecting the Right Plant for the Right Place
    • How to create different affects and moods using plants.
  5. Advising Customers in a Nursery
    • Developing good communication skills
    • knowing your product
    • plant placement.


  • Identify a range of different plants, based on their flower and leaf structures.
  • Describe the importance of effective communication and sales techniques in the retail nursery industry.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how to care for plants, both in the garden and in the nursery.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of appropriate plant selection for a range of different sites.
  • Identify a range of plant health problems and describe appropriate chemical and non-chemical control methods to control those problems.
  • Demonstrate knowledge and use of nursery products.
  • Describe the importance of plant placement in the retail nursery

Sales Tips

To sell anything, you need to foster the right attitude in the shopper; in order to turn them into a buyer

Changing attitudes can be difficult, especially when a consumer suspects that a marketer has a self-serving agenda to bring about a change – for example – to get a consumer to change to their brand or buy more products. Possible ways of changing attitude are:

1. Exposure
Seeing a brand name or a product repeatedly; may be sufficient to raise enough interest for a consumer to purchase and try that product. This can be by increased advertising or by something simple such as having more shelf space in stores.

2. Persuasion
This involves presenting reasons why a consumer should buy and try.

3. Cognitive Dissonance
This theory says “because people have a powerful drive to be consistent, when they hold two conflicting opinions they need to find a way to resolve the resulting tension”. E.g.. A person believes a product they have used for years is very good; but then as a result of persuasive advertising, believes a new and competing product is equally good. In this situation they have equal reason to use both: but they only need one. In such a situation, they need to find a reason to choose one rather than the other.

4. Changing Affect
This may involve encouraging consumers to change their beliefs. One method used is classical conditioning, where a product may be paired with a positive stimulus. For example, pairing a car with a beautiful woman. Companies may try to get consumers to “like” a product, hoping that that “like” will lead to them buying the product. Products will are better known tend to be better liked, even if consumers do not have specific beliefs about a product.

Examples of this include –

  • Pillsbury Doughboy – has a warm, “fuzzy” image.
  • Energizer Bunny – the main emphasis is on the likeable bunny, but it is hoped that consumers will also get the message that the batteries last longer.

5. Changing Behaviour
Consumers will believe their behaviour is rational, so when they choose a new product, they will usually continue to do so unless someone is able to persuade them to change to another product. We have discussed previously different methods used to lead to this change, such as discounts, coupons, money off deals and so on. Changing beliefs is the most obvious way of trying to change attitudes, especially when consumers hold inaccurate or unfavourable ones.

Advising a Customer what to Purchase
First determine the customer’s needs without prejudice. Do this by asking questions. Most people appreciate if you take the time to help them focus on their real needs. 
Sales staff in any nursery, retail or wholesale, must know the range of plants, products and services being offered for sale. This is one of the most important skills for a nursery sales person. Products/services can be described in terms of the following criteria:
  • Quality
  • Cost
  • Durabilty or lifespan
  • Supply
  • Back up service   ongoing advice/training/maintenance etc. 
  • Flexibility and diversity of use or application
Obviously, it can sometimes be unproductive, spending an hour advising someone on the sale of one plant; but such situations are rare; and even then, the happy customer will return and perhaps bring friends with them.
Convincing the Customer
What makes a buyer nervous of a salesperson? When he knows that an attempt is being made to make him take a line of action. But, a first class salesperson never betrays this type of determination. A buyer likes to feel that he is making his own decisions. Obviously this all takes place through the use of verbal or written communication.
Anything you try to sell has its good points and its bad points. You have the job of convincing the client/customer that the good points outweigh the bad points. To do this, you must believe in what you are selling.
Bad products and services can be sold, by salespeople who exaggerate the good points and hide the bad points. This isn't good marketing though, because it can cause problems in the after sales stage of marketing. If the product or service is not good, the salesperson is advised to seek product improvement. 
Add On Sales
A big push in the nursery industry is add-on sales. This refers to additional products that can be sold with a primary product. For example, the primary product is a pot plant and the add-on sales opportunities are fertiliser, pest control, new pot, watering can, etc. 
This can help increase the sale per customer however some customers may reject the sales pitch and refuse the initial primary product. For example, if your customer only has a certain amount of money to spend, he may hesitate about favouring one product at the expense of another. It can cause a "I'll need to think about it" put-off. It is best to identify your client's priority and to meet that need. Once that need is met and the 'product' is in the trolley (and guaranteed to be sold), you may then identify the next priority and help to sell that.  Do this again and again in terms of your customer's needs.
Closing the Sale
In the car trade when a salesperson has reached a stage where the sale is about to be completed, it is called the "crunch". In other words, it is the crucial moment when the sale is about to be "closed". Closing a sale is not a skill easily learnt. It follows a few simple rules but as times change and competition for the 'almighty dollar' alters, it becomes ever more important for any retail person to learn.
In the nursery industry the closing of a sale (COS) is the culmination of the whole act of selling (from first introduction of yourself, introducing your products and 'preaching' the attributes of the products). It is the payoff for all the work and planning you nave done so far. 
For every customer you approach in the nursery you should have only one objective - to achieve COS. The best way to achieve this goal is to ask a question. It should be followed by a silence to force the client to break the silence and make a decision. Eye contact and body language are important at this point - look alert and attentive. If you attempt a closed question, it may end up as a flat "no" - end of sale. A good closing question should be open-ended such as:
  • "Where shall we deliver this to?"
  • "How far are you parked from the entry?"
  • "When shall we organise the delivery?"
  • "How do you want to handle payment?"


If you aspire to work in nursery but would prefer to be at the customer facing end then this course will improve your skills: both sales skills and product knowledge. Sales staff are the stalwart of any business and for a business to succeed and continue to be profitable it must have great sales staff. This course will improve your product knowledge, improve your sales techniques and make you an asset to any business.



Check out our eBooks

It's Easy to Enrol

Select a Learning Method


$434.00Payment plans available.

Courses can be started at any time from anywhere in the world!

Need Help?

Take advantage of our personalised, expert course counselling service to ensure you're making the best course choices for your situation.