Choosing a consultant is more than just finding the best person in the field. There are plenty of skilled consultants in this market, but you can have a bad experience with an excellent consultant if their values and work styles don’t align with yours.
By all means, check references. But after the firm or individual has been vetted, the most important thing to consider is can you work well with them. Do they understand your goals? Do your communications skills mesh? Will you be able to enjoy a close working relationship? Skills and experience are important, but don’t undervalue compatibility!