W. Clement once said, “Sales are contingent upon the attitude of the salesman, not the attitude of the prospect.” And, here at the MBA, we couldn’t agree more.
In this special MBA staff Q&A, we’ll talk with MBA Business Magazine Account Executive David Thornburg about his vast sales experience and what’s behind his drive to excel.
David, you grew up in Irwin, PA, outside Pittsburgh, and have called Erie home for more than 20 years. What is it about western PA that makes you excited to live and work here?
Growing up in Irwin, a small, rural town outside of Pittsburgh, people were always very friendly, hard-working and they knew you or your family. Erie has those same similarities and qualities — the small-city feeling, great people, a healthy environment, a great lake, and no traffic delays!
You were born and bred in the Steel City and are a proud Steelers, Pens and Pirates fan. What is your fondest memory of Pittsburgh sports growing up? How has that passion for sports impacted your passion for sales?
Aside from the celebrations of winning the Super Bowl and World Series in the ‘70s, I remember skipping school for the first time in eighth-grade with my oldest brother to see the Pirates home opener at Forbes Field. The ticket he bought for me was a single seat directly behind a steel I-beam that you had to straddle your legs around and sway side-to-side to see the action down the right field line. However, late in that game, I will never forget a fan ran out to shake Roberto Clemente’s hand, and he carried on a conversation with the fan until security arrived!
Growing up, I always played sports and had a ball in my hand. I followed in the footstep of my next oldest brother, and we were always on the same team. Teamwork was always instilled in me. My success has always evolved around teamwork and trust — you cannot succeed on your own, everyone has had some support or help along the way.
In addition to your work at the MBA Business Magazine, you are active in the Erie sports scene. Tell us about your journey to become a referee. How has that driven your desire to help businesses compete on a level playing field?
In 2007-2008, I worked for the Erie BayHawks during their inaugural season and had a tremendous experience introducing the team to Erie. This passion led me to want to be involved in the sport of basketball and to give back.
I have been officiating for 10 years now and some of the Catholic school games I work on remind me of my participation as a youth. I don’t have a great deal of “history” here in Erie, so that allows me to be very neutral while officiating games. I feel this has helped me in business by seeing both sides of the sales approach. Gaining trust and understanding the buyer’s mindset helps the customer know you are working to establish a mutually beneficial relationship.
If there is one thing that MBA members would be surprised to learn about you, what would it be?
That I have an art degree in photography from Edinboro University. Having a keen eye for detail helps tremendously in advertising!
Beyond money, what is the one thing that motivates you?
Balance in life — work, live, play, and believe in something!
What is your best advice to those in the sales field?
Remember, you will fail, but what you learn from your failure will make you succeed. To fail without trying, that is unacceptable. And, always treat others as you would want to be treated.