Nursery Sales Assistant

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


Open Learning Course, self paced home study

  • Study, Learn and Work in a Plant Nursery
  • Improve your ability to sell plants and associated products

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.

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 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

Why are Some Customers Difficult?

Different customers will react in different ways.

Here are some common problem situations that you should watch out for.



Things Moving Too Fast

The customer may become too enthusiastic, too fast; and not take time to think out their responses clearly (ie. Their mouth moves faster than their brain). Some people absorb things faster than others: moving fast may then leave some floundering; moving slower may risk the fast movers becoming bored.



Things Moving Too Slow

Boredom can set in if things are moving slowly.  Don't try to explain things in so much detail that yout bore the customer. By involving the customer (asking questions and listening to their responses), you may be able to keep people involved longer.

  • Being too brief Does Not work though
  • Increase involvement, rather than speed.


Some Customers are Too Talkative

Some people have a natural tendancy to talk a lot. Unfortunately, these people often do not listen as well as they talk. It may take extra skills to get a message through to these people. Yo need to interject and try to manipulate a more interactive style of discussion here.

Some Cistomers do Not Talkative Enough

This may be due to shyness, or lack of understanding of the topic. Asking direct questions can help raise involvement.


Some Customers Think they know it All Already

This type of behaviour is often a "call for attention".

This type of person can confront and contradict you; and in this way be very disruptive. Their approach in turn needs to be disrupted by diverting them to other things: perhaps asking them to take notes, or putting him/her in a place where they can be ignored more easily. (eg. at the back of the class, only for teacher/student situations). Be positive in what you do.  (eg. ask: ‘Jim, can you change places with Paul? You obviously already know this and Paul can't see properly from the back of the class").

  • Customers Are Argumentative    As with the "know it all", this type of behaviour is often a call for attention.  Asking this type of person to leave is a last resort. Better solutions are to have the other listeners put pressure on, or to move them to a blind spot where they can't be seen by the rest of the class.
  • Listener(s) Lack Focus   If discussion moves off track, perhaps ask a question "Is this relevant to this situation?"
  • Sales person's Personality Clashes with Client/Customer    A skilled communicator will ignore such problems; and under no circumstances show the customer(s) that they are affected in any way.
  • Personality Clashes between Audience - these problems can escalate and become uncontrollable.     The sales person must intervene quickly as soon as the problem is detected, if damage is to be minimised.

More from ACS