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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.

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.

Aims

  • 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?"
 

HOW CAN YOU BENEFIT FROM THIS COURSE?

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.

 

 


Meet some of our academics

Adriana Fraser Businesswoman, writer, teacher, consultant, horticulturist and sustainable living expert for more than 30 years. Adriana has worked with ACS for over 30 years. She has contributed to dozens of books(including Australia's national Grass Roots Magazine) since the early 1980's and continues to be actively involved as a contributor to Home Grown magazine and other publications. Adriana has a Cert.Child Care., Adv.Cert.App.Mgt., Cert in Assessment and Training., Cert.Hort., Adv.Dip.Hort.
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.
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.
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


Check out our eBooks

Working With PeopleA job and careers guide for people who like working with people -covering everything from counselling and personnel management to marketing, health and education
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
Trees and ShrubsA great little encyclopaedia that is valuable for students, tradespeople, or the home gardener needing a quick reference when selecting garden plants. It covers the care and culture of 140 commonly grown genera of trees and shrub, plus many hundreds of species and cultivars. 169 colour photos 94 pages
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.