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Nursery Sales Course

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


Improve your ability to sell plants and allied products.

Our Nursery Sales Assistant Course has recently undergone a major update to Sales Skills in a nursery section. Many nursery sales assistants are passionate about plants, but lack the necessary sales skills to boost sales. Others have a good selling ability but lack the plant knowledge needed to assist customers and really ‘sell’ the product.

The Nursery Sales Assistants course has been developed to provide the necessary balance between plant knowledge and sales skills. Your staff will learn all about plant identification, plant care, how to advise customers and all about important sales secrets that will boost your bottom line. This course will train staff on how to ‘open’ and most importantly, ‘close’ a sale!

“Whether dealing directly with members of the public or with other professionals such as landscape gardeners, it is imperative that nursery sales staff have sufficient plant knowledge to communicate effectively. That’s where this course comes in. A must do course for those wishing to improve their sales skills whilst simultaneously improving their awareness of plant identification, use, and care.” - Gavin Cole B.Sc., Psych.Cert., Cert.Garden Design, MACA, ACS Tutor.

Lesson Structure

There are 5 lessons in this course:

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

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Identify a sales opening.
  • Identify and demonstrate how to 'close' a sale.
  • Demonstrate a range of sales skills in a horticultural workplace
  • 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.

How to Attract the Customer's Attention
A salesperson must get the buyer’s attention within the first few seconds and interest them in the sales offer (after the initial greeting chat of course).  There are 5 different sales techniques that can be used to gain and hold a buyer’s attention:
Factual Opening
A buyer will always be interested in actual facts related to their business.  People are naturally curious to learn more about topics which interest them.  eg. If you are selling a relatively new type of plant, you could first find out the facts about the area and begin by saying “it is a fact that some plants require more maintenance and care than others, but with these types of plants you can just plant them and leave them.  They love the soil in this area and shoot up very quickly”. 
The Question Opening
Asking the buyer a serious and sensible question related to your sales offer allows instant buyer involvement.  The question should be related to the buyer’s world.   For example, if a buyer is looking at your nursery’s flower plants, you could ask, “what is the colour scheme of your garden?”   Most people are only too happy to answer questions which relate to themselves and their world.   In the questioning opening, the buyer becomes involved in the sale.
The Reference Opening
People are influenced by a recommendation from someone he/she knows.   Everyone loves a good recommendation because it saves them groundwork, adds certainty, and is considered valuable information.  For example, if a potential buyer says they are considering a holiday in Fiji, you can offer a reference:  “you must stay at the Grand Tiger Hotel, the service is fantastic, their food is the best I’ve ever had etc”   The recommendations you provide don’t need to be about plants, they can be about anything the customer clearly needs information about.
Demonstration Opening
A great demonstration offer can instantly involve a buyer.  If the seller doesn’t have the plant or examples in front of them, the demonstration opening can be simple as explaining how an offer can save the buyer money.  Whipping out a pen and paper and involving the buyer in the demonstration of the calculations.   Alternatively, the demonstration can involve showing how the plants look when fully grown, or drawings of how to position plants in a garden.
Principles of Approaching
  • Relax the prospect.  Remove their fear, by coming on softly.  A good salesperson doesn’t want the customer to be worried about being pushed.  A good salesperson wants the customer to be thinking about the product.
  • Smile, look into their eyes, greet them properly (consider however, that the customer may not want to be touched by, or shake hands with a total stranger).
  • Be mindful of your internal thoughts. Internal thoughts often project outwardly.  Ensure your internal thoughts are not desperate (eg, I must make them trust me).  Internal thoughts should be more relaxed and build your own self confidence (eg. this person is going to like and trust me because I am a likeable and trustworthy individual).
  • Consider whether the prospect has been referred to you or not, and adjust your approach accordingly.  If they have been referred, it is polite to introduce yourself by name.  If they have not been referred, exchanging personal details may not be appropriate. Never crowd a potential customer.  Handshakes, names and personal details indicate the type of commitment and attention that signifies purchases.  The prospects may be frightened off by this, particularly if they have simply come in to browse.  Advise the prospects to feel free to browse and that you are there if they need you – then walk away.  Giving prospects some space allows them to relax; this is the first step in gaining their trust. 
  •  If the prospect spends notable time at one particular plant and hasn’t moved, it is time to move back in and ask an ‘opening involvement question’.  An involvement question is any positive question they’d ask themselves about the benefits you are going to sell. (Eg.  Would this plant be adding a new dimension to your garden or do you want intensify the ‘look’ of these in your garden?)  The idea is to get them talking and thinking for themselves about why they want the product.

Meet some of our academics

Marie BeermanMarie has over 7 years in horticulture and education in both Australia and Germany. Marie has been a co author of several ebooks in recent years, including "Roses" and "Climbing Plants". Marie's qualifications include B. Sc., M.Hort. Dip. Bus. Cert. Ldscp.
Rosemary Davies Leading horticultural expert in Australia. Rosemary trained in Horticultural Applied Science at Melbourne University. Initially she worked with Agriculture Victoria as an extension officer, taught horticulture students, worked on radio with ABC radio (clocking up over 24 years as a presenter of garden talkback programs, initially the only woman presenter on gardening in Victoria) and she simultaneously developed a career as a writer. She then studied Education and Training, teaching TAFE apprentices and developing curriculum for TAFE, before taking up an offer as a full time columnist with the Herald and Weekly Times and its magazine department after a number of years as columnist with the Age. She has worked for a number of companies in writing and publications, PR community education and management and has led several tours to Europe. In 1999 Rosemary was BPW Bendigo Business Woman of the Year and is one of the founders and the Patron, of the Friends of the Bendigo Botanic gardens. She has completed her 6th book this year and is working on concepts for several others. Rosemary has a B Ed, BSc Hort, Dip Advertising & Marketing
John Mason Parks Manager, Nurseryman, Landscape Designer, Garden Writer and Consultant. Over 40 years experience; working in Victoria, Queensland and the UK. He is one of the most widely published garden writers in the world; author of more than 70 books and editor for 4 different gardening magazines. John has been recognised by his peers being made a fellow of the Institute of Horticulture in the UK, as well as by the Australian Institute of Horticulture.
Diana Cole B.A. (Hons), Dip. Horticulture, BTEC Dip. Garden Design, Diploma Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, PTLLS (Preparing to Teach in the Life Long Learning Sector), P.D.C. In addition to the qualifications listed above, Diana holds City & Guild construction qualifications and an NPTC pesticide spraying licence (PA1/PA6). Diana runs her own landscape gardening business (Arbella Gardens). Active in many organisations including the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers.

Check out our eBooks

Growing and Using Perennial PlantsWhen designed and grown well, a perennial garden produces a blaze of colour for many months – starting in spring, flourishing through summer, and beyond into autumn.
Starting a Nursery or Herb FarmThis is both a guide to “how to propagate plants” as well as an exploration of the possibility of starting a small nursery or herb business that could eventually grow into a blossoming business! It's often amazing how much can be produced, and the profit that can be made from a few hundred square meters of land. Since it was first published by “Grass Roots” in 1981, we have lost count of the hundreds of people who have told us how this book kicked off a successful business or career for them. 63 pages
What to Plant WhereA great guide for choosing the right plant for a particular position in the garden. Thirteen chapters cover: plant selection, establishment, problems, and plants for wet areas. Shade, hedges and screens, dry gardens, coastal areas, small gardens, trees and shrubs, lawns and garden art.
Marketing PsychologyThe Marketing Psychology ebook will provide you with an understanding of the psychology behind the consumer decision making process. With 52 pages of insight into marketing psychology and consumer behaviour, this ebook help you understand consumers much more effectively. Marketing psychology is about understanding people’s purchasing behaviour and applying that understanding to the advertising, marketing and ultimately the selling of products or services.