Having worked a consultant with global consulting firms and served over fifty of the Fortune 500 companies, I have been a consultant for over 15 years.
Although the type of work will vary, consultants need to know why they are being hired. What does your client expect from you? If consultants are armed with that knowledge, they can best apply their skills. I have seen many consultants who jump right into the problem without understanding the context of why they were hired and what success will look like from the client's perspective.
A very specific visual that I use is to imagine what the bullet point on my resume needs to look like after I am done. What am I going to do for the client that they can measure and be happy with that I can put down as an example my advice had on the organization. Once I have that in mind, I make sure the client wants that too and the rest is just doing my job.
Another thing that consultants may need to know is the type of company culture. If the organization has a lot of certain types of folks, like passive decision makers, the approach to take will accommodate this. The culture of an organization can shed a lot of light on what a consultant can realistically accomplish, especially as the consultant's approach and personality will have an effect on how successful they can be in that organization. I have worked with some organizations where I was not a good fit, while others made working together easy. Being aware of the culture can help the consultant modify their approach accordingly and even know when they may not be the best fit. It is a mature sign for a consultant to read the problem well enough to know that they are not the best person for the job.
This actually depends on which is your question. Consultants won't do magic, they would just help you understand your business from a different perspective and give you advice based on past experiences and predictions of what they think it could happen.
E.g: Here in Clarity I got a question about how to promote a film deal. After talking to the person he told me he would have a premiere that was sold out already. I told him to extend the Q&A outside of the premiere and into a bar. To create a more close experience with his audience to obtain feedback of what they thought of his film (product). He should also obtain all the contact info of his audience. Once you do this, it's easier to address to them. 1-You know them better 2-You have their contact info
As you can see this is very specific. The same should be your request to a consultant
1. How to add massive value for their clients: Anytime a business is engaging with a consultant- they are expecting solutions to their problems. If you can solve their problems and add massive value to them, they will love you.
2. Communication is paramount: Businesses want to be kept in the loop. They don't want to have to reach out to you to ask you what you've been doing. Be proactive, send them status updates and treat them like you'd want to be treated.
In order to be hired as a consultant, you need to provide value to your customers with outstanding quality.
For instance, being a technical consultant means that you are more experienced than the technical department of your client, and they want to get a 10 out of 10 review on their platform, design the right architecture and coach the team in the best direction possible.
Business consultants can assist the CEO and the managers by finding out the best way for them to generate revenue, grow their user base or whatever the main problem of the company at that moment is.
Your end result has to be of a great significance to your client. You can focus on areas that require deep knowledge and a lot of experience - through trial or error, or working with other top corporation - which would justify the costs for you given the ROI.