TRUST – The Secret Ingredient for Foreign Trade

Trust has always played a major role in trade, whether it is within the borders of a territory or beyond the seven seas. The basis of the barter system, the oldest form of trade known to mankind, was based on trust. Even when the first ships sailed with goods, the first rule of trade was gaining the trust of the rulers of the territory the ships had anchored in, through gifts and gestures of goodwill. As time rolled on, societies became more complex and so did trade and commerce, but the importance of trust remained unchanged.

If people like you, they will listen to you,
but if they trust you, they will do business with you.

Zig Ziglar

An American author and motivational speaker.

True, times have changed. Technology has advanced. But, trust still remains the secret ingredient in foreign trade! In fact, with the spread of Internet the value of trust in trade, especially foreign trade, has only grown. And today, since more often than not, the buyer and the seller does not have the chance to meet face to face to establish a rapport, building trust is a more difficult task. International marketplaces have thrown open their doors to millions of exporters and importers across the globe. Most of these traders are honest but there sure are a few bad apples. The question then remains, how does a modern day exporter standout from the crowd and establish his credentials? How does he gain the trust of a prospective buyer? Is it even worth putting time and effort to gain something as ambiguous as trust? Let us first tackle the last question.

Exports and imports involve complex documentation procedures and cargo handling arrangements. These can be very taxing and stressful. If guidelines are not followed, there can be discrepancies which subsequently lead to complications. Attention to detail is of paramount importance in foreign trade and even minor issues can stall the entire proceedings and push deadlines. Not only do traders incur more charges but such delays also have the potential to sour deals; not to mention nullifying the future possibility of working together.

Because these situations creep up all the time, importers prefer to deal with exporters who have a proven track record of delivering on promises, in other words, exporters who have gained the trust of the buyer. These exporters ensure smooth transaction which results in less headaches for buyers. Naturally, buyers prefer to work with sellers who they know can take a transaction to its justified end without causing hassles. And this is not subjective, research proves that customers prefer to deal with trusted exporters. In fact, studies have observed that over 70% customers prefer trusted exporters over other key factors. 20% go for the lowest quote and the rest chose exporters based on a multitude of other factors including proximity.


Surely, trust pays more dividends than any other factor. Now that we have established how crucial trust is in the realm of foreign trade, let us look at the various ways that an exporter can gain trust. Gaining trust has never been easy at the best of times, but successful traders have been able to build trust through various avenues. Allow us to give you a few pointers that will go a long way in establishing your credentials and help you succeed in the competitive world of foreign trade.

01. Flaunt your loyal customers to your prospects.

Studies prove that over 90% customers make it a point to read the reviews before associating with any business and over 72% customers act only after reading a positive review! How does this information help you? To become a successful exporter and garner trust in your potential customers, the first step you need to take is to ensure that your business has positive reviews. Showcase your strengths. Highlight your accomplishments. Turn the spotlight on the positive aspects of your business. Positive reviews act like a powerful tool by making a long-lasting first impression on your buyer. And, if you have a buyer who is willing to give you a testimonial and allows you to use him as a reference, nothing like it. Your loyal buyers will help you generate much more new business than any other marketing effort.

02. Consistency is of paramount importance.

As an exporter, you are usually expected to send out a sample to the buyer to help him decide. It is important that the sample be of supreme quality. If you land the order based on the quality of the sample, you need to deliver exactly the same quality. Exporters who maintain this and are flexible to cater to customisable needs become the choice of every buyer. Eventually, you get recognised for the quality and consistency of your products and services. A surefire way to gain trust!

03. A picture is worth a thousand words.

When customers see photos and videos of high-quality products on your website, it fosters trust in them. Being able to witness the actual products even before placing an order helps customers to gain an understanding regarding the quality and look of the product and helps you close the deal faster. Also, when a customer receives a sample of the product as seen in the photos and videos online, it takes him/her one step closer to a positive review. A word of warning though. Invest in good quality photographs and videos but do not mislead your buyer. For, misleading is the quickest way of losing trust.

04. Offer your customers a tour of your facilities.

Whenever you offer a potential customer a tour of your factory, it helps solidify their faith in you as an exporter. This is because you are inviting them to have a look at everything you do and stand for. It is first hand verification. It helps them gauge your quality. A visit to your manufacturing unit also helps them to build a rapport with you. And in a situation where you are unable to give your buyer a physical tour, try the virtual route. Today’s technology can make virtual tours every bit as real as physical tours. Spruce it up with a live video chat!

05. Lay out your cards on the table.

Make sure you come across transparent in your profile. Have all the relevant documentation and paper work about your products available on your website. Take special care to ensure that your certifications are highlighted and your credit ratings are available to your prospects. This leads the customers to believe that you have nothing to hide. In case of any awards and recognition, a display of such documents helps the buyers judge your past performance. This makes it easier for them to understand what to expect from you as their seller.

06. Give your business the seal of trust.

When advertising your product on online marketplaces, make it a point to go through their policies to get their ‘trusted’ badge. This brands you as a trusted or verified exporter. Having acquired such a badge on your profile makes you stand out and takes you one step closer in the trust department. When an exporter successfully transitions into a trusted exporter, he enables his business to multiply.

Follow these small suggestions and win customers like never before!

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