The residential building industry is notorious for being a technology backwater, but a recent BUILDER survey on sales automation software indicates that the tide may be turning.

Roughly 90 percent of those surveyed say their sales centers have PCs and Internet access, while another 73 percent reported that their companies have a public Web site.

In an indication that builder Web sites are moving beyond marketing and brochure ware, 43 percent say they run applications with suppliers, while 33 percent run applications with subcontractors and 21 percent say their companies run Web applications with architects.

However, only slightly more than one-third of the group of 122 respondents say they use sales automation software, a sign that at least one-half to two-thirds of the industry has a long way to go in shoring up sales operations.

When asked which features were most important to them in a sales automation system, contract printing, contact management, and options selections topped the list at 66 percent, 64 percent, and 54 percent respectively. Sales management functions, reporting, and back-office integration also scored fairly high, at 52 percent, 45 percent, and 41 percent respectively.

The survey was presented at the Builder1440 users' conference, which took place last December in Baltimore.