Nursery Sales Assistant

Train to be a nursery retail sales assistant in garden centres and plant production nurseries; for better selling by correspondence study.

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

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Learn to Sell Plants -Distance Education Course -Online Course

“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. 
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!

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.

What You Will Do

  • Read the supplied course material.
  • Undertake simple and relevant practical tasks.
  • Submit written assignments at the completion of each lesson.
  • Prepare plant review worksheets
  • Learn to sell plants and allied products.

Study Sales and Improve Marketing in Your Nursery

Marketing can make or break a nursery. There are many different ways of marketing nursery products. Some of the common systems are outlined below:


  • Shops -These are garden centres or nurseries which concentrate on selling plants, or sections within other shops such as supermarkets, hardware stores or even florists.
  • Mail Order/Online -Usually promoted through websites or catalogues and magazine advertizements
  • Specialist Nurseries -These concentrate on growing one particular type of plant which is sold direct to the public from the nursery. This type of nursery may wholesale plants also.
  • Shows -Trade shows, homes shows, Agricultural Field days and other such events can be used as an outlet for plants.
  • Markets -Markets come in all types and sizes (eg. Craft markets, fruit and vegetable markets, etc). Some nurseries find regular attendance at a market can make a significant contribution towards sales. Markets may also be used on an irregular basis to clear excess stock.


  • Truck Sales -A vehicle loaded with plants calls on retailers and usually sells direct from the truck. Some wholesalers use a smaller vehicle with samples of stock which are shown and orders are taken from.
  • Markets -Trade markets conducted by industry associations or private markets which sell to retailers, landscapers and other industry people at wholesale prices. The organizers of these markets usually charge participating nurseries a fee or commission, or both.
  • Agents -These may sell using one or several different methods (eg. Truck sales, markets, etc) and take a commission from the wholesale grower. This method can take away the worry of marketing, but it may also affect overall profit depending on how good or bad the agent is.

What Does Marketing Involve?

  • PRODUCTS  What is available? (range, quality, diversity) 
  • PACKAGING & PRESENTING the goods or services
  • MAKING CONTACT with the person you are selling to
  • COMMUNICATING Ensuring they understand about the goods or services
  • CONVINCING  THEM Presenting the "product" in a way which favours you achieving the result you are aiming for.
  • FOLLOW UP  After Sales Service, to ensuring the "buyer" is satisfied with what they get (in the long term)
Marketing can be looked at as having six stages; products, promotions, packaging, transport, sales, after sales (analysis and follow up)
This course focuses on just the "Selling" aspect of marketing.


Every Sales Person should know.....

  • Details of the product or service they are selling is, including it's attributes, it's competition, it's negative points (and how to counteract these)
  • Where and how to find the product/brochures/catalogues/order forms....or anything else relating to the sale.
  • Prices to charge and terms of sale
  • Procedure for making a sale (incl. Using cash register, filling out order book, writing receipts, etc).
  • Company policies (on returns, damaged goods etc)
  • How to package or deliver goods or services (eg: wrapping, directing other staff to deliver service or good, etc).
  • How to keep records in order.
  • How to maintain order & tidiness in sales area/equipment etc.

A good sales person should possess the following characteristics:

  • A good appearance.
  • A pleasant personality.
  • Courtesy & tact.
  • Enjoy selling.
  • A basic understanding of human nature (practical not theoretical  ability to read people's body language etc)


*Research your customer and product first.
 (You need to know both the customer & the product before you attempt
  to sell)
*Get your customer's full shopping list before you start. Gently introduce them to 
 products that will complement the ones they want eg. orchid mix for an orchid plant.
 Remember that most customers are open to suggestion and want their plants to grow well
 so help them acheive these goals.
*Highlight the benefits of a product...rather than the features.
 (Tell the customer what it can do for them personally...don't tell them
  what is great & unique about the product if it is not relevant to them
  in particular).
*If there are objections, play it cool and try to determine, very
 specifically what they are...once you narrow down the objection,
 put it into perspective by showing something about the product which
 compensates that objection (eg: Yes it is expensive  but it will do more
 things). Don't make it seem as if you have won a point.
*Always keep control of the conversation...don't let yourself get into
 a defensive position. This is done by asking questions when the customer
 starts to take the offensive.
*Do not talk while giving a demonstration. Show them, then stop & talk,
 stop talking while you show them again...etc.
*Handle products with respect.
*Get the customer to try out the product.
*If you need to, use the phone or calculator to buy thinking time.
*Try to close the sale  ask for an order at the appropriate time, when the
 customer seems to be in a state of mind where he/she is likely to buy.
*Fulfilling the customer's needs is more important than improving
 your own knowledge or sales technique.
*Remember that the customer is always right  without him you are not
 going to remain in business.


In the nursery situation, plant knowledge and cultural information are one of the most important requirements of staff. This can be disadvantageous for new staff with low or little plant knowledge. Teach then that customers prefer to wait while information is being researched rather than be fed incorrect information. Remember, signage around the nursery will help here.


In retailing (at least), shoppers can be categorized into the following four groups:
1. Economic Shoppers
   Most interested in prices, value, product quality & economic factors.
   Not so interested in treatment by staff, decor of the store, location etc.


2. Personalizing Shoppers
   Enjoy the interaction with sales staff, preferring to shop with sales
   staff they know and like.


3. Ethical Shoppers
   Avoid large chain stores or companies which tend towards monopolies
   or deal with products which are judged unethical.
    Don't shop at big supermarkets because "they are putting the small man
    out of business"
    Prefer to buy food from the bio-dynamic shop because it hasn't been
    treated with chemicals.

4. Apathetic Shoppers
   Don't like shopping, go to the most convenient supplier because
   they must.


  • Learn sales skills
  • Learn about products peculiar to horticulture
  • Understand product placement
  • Learn to answer ciustomer's horticultural questions
  • Be a professional in this field



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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 (c
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.
Jacinda Cole

B.Sc., Cert.Garden Design. Landscape Designer, Operations Manager, Consultant, Garden Writer. He was operations manager for a highly reputable British Landscape firm (The Chelsea Gardener) before starting up his own landscaping firm. He spent three year
Adriana Fraser

Over 30 years working in horticulture, as a gardener, propagator, landscape designer , teacher and consultant. Adriana has spent much of her life living on large properties, developing and maintaining her own gardens, and living a semi self sufficient li
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