Would you think you could learn a profound sales lesson from American Idol? Well, it happened last season.

Here’s the backstory in case you’re not a fan. Pia,the beautiful and seemingly unbeatable contestant, got the axe.

The mentors (music industry bigwigs whose names I don’t know) were advising another contestant, Lauren, about her upcoming performance. After many compliments about Lauren’s talents, one mentor looked her straight in the eye and said, “There are a whole bunch of Pia fans out there. You can steal her votes.”

Lauren looked horrified. She couldn’t possibly steal her friend’s votes.

The mentor continued, “That’s how you have to think in this business.”

A second mentor, understanding Lauren’s discomfort, smiled and perfectly reframed the goal. “Don’t sell them. Invite them.”

Don’t sell them. Invite them. Think about the wisdom in that. He was telling her that instead of going in for the kill, to simply use her gifts- in her own special way – to engage the audience. To invite them to her world.

You can apply the same principal to sales. Don’t set out to steal the business with heavy-handed tactics. Instead, invite your prospects to participate in the opportunity you bring to the table. An invitation implies acceptance and friendship. It’s non-threatening. It’s flattering. It means “I like you enough to join me.” And most importantly, the extension of an invitation puts you in control. Instead of waiting for a prospect to choose you, you were the first to choose by asking them to the party.

By inviting people, you totally change the sales dynamic – in your favor.

There are actually a lot more sales tidbits one can cull from your American Idol viewing. Be authentic. Show up. Do your best. But for today, the concept of inviting people into your world wins my vote.